Why is the Statue of Liberty green
The Statue of Liberty has stood at the entrance of the New York harbor for over one hundred years, standing a symbol of hope and freedom to millions of immigrants which flocked to the United States in the hopes of obtaining a better life for themselves, and their children. Standing like a green beacon of hope, holding her torch so proudly, many people have wondered what makes Lady Liberty the shade of green she is today.
Many people speculate that the cause of the statue’s color today is from pollution and acid rain which permeates any huge metropolitan area like New York. While this could be a contributing cause to the decay of the statue, it actually has very little to do with the green color. Others believe that the copper the statue is made of is tarnished, which is what produces the color. While this is closer to the actual truth, copper doesn’t tarnish. What is actually happening is called oxidation. So what harm does oxidation do to the statue? Surprisingly, very little. When the statue was renovated for its centennial, it was shown that the natural weathering and oxidation which occurred over the years amounted to only a .005 loss in copper in just a century.
The process of oxidation is a very natural one, and can be observed in any copper material which has been exposed to excessive amounts of water and other moisture. Pennies which have been left in water slowly start to turn the same shade of green which is observed in the Statue of Liberty. The technical term for the shade of green of the statue is called verdigris. This is the term that is used when any copper which has been exposed to the elements begins to oxidize and forms the green coating which is so very familiar on Lady Liberty. Once formed, the green patina can be removed, but there is little point in doing so, if the copper will remain in the elements. This is why when the statue was renovated for its centennial, the green hue remained, despite the workers work. There is no cost effective way to remove the green hue from the statue, and she has become an icon and her green color is just as much a part of that as her definitive shape.
Over the years, the only part of her that has been entirely replaced due to aging and wear, has been her torch. The original torch is in the Statue of Liberty museum, for visitors to behold. Her current torch blends in just as well as the old one, and maintains the same shape without being corroded. It is estimated that the Statue of Liberty could withstand several more centuries of wear and tear from harsh New York weather before she is required to be completely renovated. This is good news for generations to come, as Lady Liberty will remain the famous green icon of hope for thousands of people who understand that America means freedom.