On This Day
1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York, in the United States. The copper statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
The Statue of Liberty is a figure of Libertas, a robed Roman liberty goddess. She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tabula ansata inscribed in Roman numerals with “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776), the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. A broken shackle and chain lay at her feet as she walks forward, commemorating the recent national abolition of slavery. The statue became an icon of freedom and of the United States, and a national park tourism destination. It is a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.
Bartholdi was inspired by a French law professor and politician, Édouard René de Laboulaye, who is said to have commented in 1865 that any monument raised to U.S. independence would properly be a joint project of the French and U.S. peoples. Because of the post-war instability in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the U.S. provide the site and build the pedestal. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions.
The torch-bearing arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and in Madison Square Park in Manhattan from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened by lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer, of the New York World, started a drive for donations to finish the project and attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was built in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The statue’s completion was marked by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Public access to the balcony around the torch has been barred since 1916.
Born On This Day
1900 – Evelyn Irons, Scottish journalist and war correspondent (d. 2000) 
Evelyn Graham Irons (17 June 1900 – 3 April 2000) was a Scottish journalist, the first female war correspondent to be decorated with the French Croix de Guerre.
Irons was born in Govan, Glasgow to Joseph Jones Irons, a stockbroker, and Edith Mary Latta or Irons. She graduated from Somerville College, Oxford.
Irons’s career in journalism began at the Daily Mail, where the editor assigned her to the beauty page even though she herself had never worn makeup. She was ultimately fired for “looking unfashionable”. At the Evening Standard she edited the “women’s interest” pages, but when World War II broke out she informed the news editor “From now on I’m working for you.” Though General Montgomery objected to women reporters on the battlefield, she gained the support of French General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny and became one of the first journalists to reach liberated Paris. She was the first woman journalist to reach Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest after its capture; after climbing there through the snow she helped herself to a bottle of Hitler’s “excellent Rhine wine”.
Irons travelled to the United States in 1952 to cover the presidential election and stayed on afterward, settling near Brewster, New York. In 1954 she broke a news embargo on the overthrow of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán by hiring a mule to take her to Chiquimula while other journalists, forbidden to cross the border, waited in a bar in Honduras. She became the first reporter to reach the headquarters of the Provisional Government; a reporter for a rival paper received a telegram from his editor ordering him to “offget arse onget donkey”.
Irons’s relationship with the writer Vita Sackville-West was well-known – months before her death, an Evening Standard headline identified her as the “war correspondent who broke Vita’s heart” – but the romance was brief.
According to biographer Victoria Glendinning, in 1931 Irons went as editor of the Daily Mail women’s page to interview Sackville-West at Sissinghurst where she was designing and shaping the famous gardens. Sackville-West was married to Harold Nicolson (and had already had several extra-marital affairs, including with Violet Trefusis), while Irons was involved with Olive Rinder. As if this were not complex enough, Rinder also became a lover of Sackville-West, forming a menage-a-trois during 1932 that ended when Irons met a fellow journalist, Joy McSweeney.
Joy McSweeney (1885-1988) was an English journalist. McSweeney married and divorced twice before meeting Irons at a party in July 1931. Irons left Vita Sackville-West to stay with McSweeney; According to Sue Fox, Irons’ biographer, “It was love at first sight. […] Right from the start, they were meant to be together. It was a relaxed, natural relationship.”
McSweeney and Irons bought Lodge Hill Cottage, a 16th-century Grade II listed cottage in Medmenham, Buckinghamshire. McSweeney found the cottage in 1935 and pushed Irons to first lease and then buy it. When McSweeney and Irons moved to Brewster, New York, in 1952, they rented the cottage to several tenants, including the American cookbook writer Sylvia Vaughn Thompson.
McSweeney died in 1988, although one source reports 1978.
Sackville-West’s 1931 love poems are addressed to Irons, though the “more erotic ones” were never published. Irons and Sackville-West remained lifelong friends who “corresponded warmly”.
In 1935, Irons won the Royal Humane Society’s Stanhope Gold Medal “for the bravest deed of 1935”. She “rescued a woman from drowning under very courageous circumstances at Tresaith Beach, Cardiganshire.” It was the first time the medal had been awarded to a woman.
Irons and McSweeney lived together until McSweeney’s death in 1978. Irons died in Brewster, New York, on 3 April 2000, at the age of 99, two months short of her 100th birthday.
Glendinning, Victoria. Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983.
Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (February 20, 1924 – June 17, 2019) was an American artist, author, actress, fashion designer, heiress, and socialite. She was a member of the Vanderbilt family of New York and the mother of CNN television anchor Anderson Cooper.
During the 1930s, she was the subject of a high-profile child custody trial in which her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and her paternal aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, each sought custody of her and control over her trust fund. Called the “trial of the century” by the press, the court proceedings were the subject of wide and sensational press coverage due to the wealth and prominence of the involved parties, and the scandalous evidence presented to support Whitney’s claim that Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt was an unfit parent.
As an adult in the 1970s, Vanderbilt became known in connection with a line of fashions, perfumes, and household goods bearing her name. She was particularly noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. In 1974, Paul McCartney released “Mrs. Vandebilt”, a song inspired by and loosely based on the life of Gloria.
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