21 February-Washington Monument

The Washington Monument in Washington DC was built to commemorate George Washington the first President of the United States of America. At 170m it is the tallest obelisk in the world. The Monument attracts over half a million visitors each year.

The Washington National Monument Society was formed in 1832 on the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Following a period of fundraising a competition was held in 1836 to design a memorial. The cornerstone of the Monument was laid on July 4th 1848. Donations ran out and construction stopped in 1854. By then the monument had reached a height of 46m.

Requests were made for donations in either money or memorial stones to help in the building and the decoration of the monument. Almost 200 memorial stones were donated from all over the United States and from countries around the world. Pope Pius IX donated a marble stone one metre long by half metre high. It came from the ruins of the Temple of Concord in Rome which had been built in 366 BC. The stone was engraved with the words ‘FROM ROME’ and arrived in Washington DC in October 1853.

The anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic ‘Know-Nothing Party’ objected to the stone being used in the Monument. On the night of March 6th 1854 nine members of the party broke into the grounds of the Washington Monument. They stole the stone and dumped it in the Potomac River. Following the American Civil War building recommenced in 1877 on the Washington Monument. It was finally completed and was opened to the public on October 9th 1888.

The memorial stones, other than the ‘Popes Stone’, were built into the east and west interior walls so that they can be easily viewed by people ascending the monument. One hundred and twenty eight years after the first stone had disappeared, the Vatican during the reign of Pope John Paul II, donated another stone to replace the first. It was placed in the interior of the west wall of the Washington Monument 103m above ground level in 1982. The inscription on the stone reads ‘A ROMA AMERICAE’ (Rome to America).

The Washington Monument in Washington DC was dedicated in the year 1885 On This Day.

Washington Monument





17 June-Statue of Liberty

William Russell Grace from Ballylinan, Co Laois, Ireland was mayor of New York when the Statue of Liberty arrived in the city from France in 1885. It was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States of America. The Statue of Liberty is now a national Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist site attracting over 3 million visitors annually and is one of America’s most famous landmarks.

In 1865 the French poet, author and politician Edouard de Laboulaye proposed a monument for the United States to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a suitable sculpture. Following a trip to America and discussions with individuals in America and France the idea of the Statue of Liberty was conceived

It was agreed that the cost of building the statue would be borne by the French and the Americans would build the pedestal. Funds for the project were raised through lotteries, exhibitions and other events in both countries. Construction of the statue began in 1875. The metallic skeleton which supports the copper exterior of the statue was designed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) who later built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere in June 1885. It took four months to assemble and erect the statue which had been shipped from France as 350 individual pieces. It was erected on the pedestal which had been prepared by the Americans on what is now called Liberty Island in New York harbour. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated at a ceremony presided over by US President Grover Cleveland on October 28th 1886.

The site for the Statue of Liberty was originally suggested by Bartholdi having noted during his visit that ships arriving in New York had to sail past it. Ellis Island, the main immigration station in America, opened in 1892. During the following sixty years millions of people, many of them Irish, sailed past the statue on their way to Ellis Island and a new life in America.

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbour form France in the year 1885 On This Day.

Statue of Liberty by Sue Waters on 2012-07-06 14:39:00

Building the Statue of Liberty by pbump on 2013-03-16 11:31:43