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Happy 120th Birthday Ellis Island

July 3rd, 2012

By Victoria Prather, Manager, Communications, CDA

It’s been a gateway to immigrants who were greeted by the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty stands tall today thanks to copper.

As we get ready to celebrate July 4, let’s take a moment to remember the 120th anniversary of Ellis Island, the gateway to the new world for more than 12 million immigrants.

It’s believed that more than 40% of Americans can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island from immigrants who arrived on steamships, according to the National Park Service.

And what did all of them see as they made their way to America? The Statue of Liberty, the proud symbol of our nation’s freedom.

She’s stood the test of time – with the help of the 31 tons (62,000 pounds) of copper, the mighty metal that continues to be a sustainable, recyclable material widely used today. I try to imagine
What 15-year-old Annie Moore, described as “a rosy-cheeked Irish girl,” felt when she saw the Statue of Liberty as the first person to pass through Ellis Island. That first day, three large ships were waiting to land, and 700 immigrants passed through Ellis Island. In the first year, nearly 450,000 immigrants landed.

Copper has been there since the beginning and has stayed strong – “Virtually intact… despite the deterioration of other metals,” National Park Service architect Peter Dessauer said in 1984, during its 100-year anniversary restoration.

Do you know what makes the Statue of Liberty green? Give credit to the 80 tons of copper sheeting, which naturally oxidized over time to create the patina protecting Lady Liberty from wind and wear.

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