Liberty’s Biggest Billboard

Immigrants View The Statue Of Liberty

The author of Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty, Elizabeth Mitchell, celebrates the statue’s 128th birthday, which is today:

[W]hat Bartholdi did back in 1871 when he first came to pitch his idea to America was make Bedloe’s Island, a former oyster bed, home to America’s core promise. If the nation were indeed founded on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, let America be “pinged” on that notion every day. Passersby, not limited by demographics, would see her. The statue would be called by a title that induced a mantra: Liberty Enlightening the World, shortened down to “The Statue of Liberty.” People would be forced to say the word “Liberty” on a regular basis. Bartholdi would lose his own fame but that word, “Liberty,” would echo on, from every tour bus operator, from every child pointing out a car window, from every mind that glimpsed the iconic image on billboards or print ads.

But this Friday, as Mark Duffy notes, the statue is becoming an ad itself:

New York City’s most beloved Lady is going is to be selling bow ties on Halloween. For the record: Lady Liberty has been used to shill many, many things. India’s Jet Airways even put a bindi on her. But using her to sell bow ties is just fucking stupid. First of all, women don’t wear bow ties. And secondly, they don’t go with robes.

Nick Graham, founder of the Joe Boxer company, isn’t just going to use a representation of her: he is going to use the actual statue to help hawk his new line of bow ties. He supposedly is going to do this by hovering 60-foot [18m], 35-pound [16kg] bow ties in front of the lady via helicopter on Halloween morning.


(Photo: Illustration of a group of immigrants on the steerage deck of a steamship viewing the Statue of Liberty as they arrive in New York Harbor, circa 1887. By FPG/Getty Images)