Perhaps no American symbol is more widely recognized or powerfully expressive than Liberty Enlightening the World—the Statue of Liberty, erected on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor in 1885. This thirty-foot replica was commissioned around 1900 by the Russian-born auctioneer William H. Flattau to sit atop his eight-story Liberty Warehouse, then one of the highest points on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Flattau combined his entrepreneurial spirit with pride in the adopted country in which he had prospered.
The sculpture was likely manufactured by W.H. Mullins of Salem, Ohio, which specialized in monumental statues made of sheet metal over iron or copper skeletons. Figures of this size were often commissioned to decorate the entrances or rooflines of public buildings; in the late nineteenth century, cast zinc and sheet metals began to replace bronze because of their affordability.
A popular fixture of the Upper West Side for more than a century, the statue was removed in 2002 when the warehouse was sold and renovated for use as an apartment building.