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Q: Statue of Liberty ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Statue of Liberty
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: argonaftis-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 11 Aug 2006 12:17 PDT
Expires: 10 Sep 2006 12:17 PDT
Question ID: 755107
Is the Statue of Liberty's pedestal actually a compass?  I only count
11 points so I'm not really sure.
Subject: Re: Statue of Liberty
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 11 Aug 2006 13:06 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Your count is accurate: the Statue of Liberty's pedestal has 11
points. Although a representation of a compass would certainly be
appropriate, the pedestal is not such a representation. In fact, it is
not symbolic of anything: it took its shape from the structure upon
which it was built, an old fort which was shaped like an 11-pointed
star. Star-shaped forts with various numbers of points became popular
in an era when cannon fire was a major form of attack.

"A Star Fort is a fortification in the style that evolved during the
'Age of Blackpowder' when the cannon came to dominate the battlefield.
Passive fortifications of the medieval era proved vulnerable to
reduction by cannonfire... Forts evolved complex shapes that allowed
defensive batteries of cannon to command interlocking fields of fire."

Wikipedia: Star fort

"In 1811, Fort Wood opened on an island in New York Harbor that was
formerly called Bedloe?s Island. Construction had begun in 1808 as
part of an effort to protect lower Manhattan?s ports. The 11-pointed
star-shaped battery was named Fort Wood in 1814 in honor of Lt. Col.
Eleazer Wood, who died in an attack on Lake Erie during the War of
1812. But it was also known as Star Fort because of its shape. In
1861, during the Civil War, Fort Wood served as an infirmary for 100
sick Confederate POWs. The fort serves as the base of the Statue of
Liberty, which was dedicated in 1886. Fort Wood remained open until
1944. The National Park Service currently operates Liberty Island,
which was officially renamed in 1956."

Newsday: 1811: Fort Wood Opens,0,4371249.htmlstory?coll=4thrail-bottom-promo

"It was decided that the pedestal should be built in the center of old
Fort Wood, an 11-pointed star-shaped fort constructed early in the
nineteenth century to protect New York which was becoming increasingly
important as a commercial depot."

NPS Historical Handbook: Statue of Liberty 

"A still more modern system was installed in 1931, including electric
transformers, switch panels, automatic clock controls, and a complete
new floodlighting system. This installation consisted of ninety-six
1,000-watt incandescent lamps enclosed in cast bronze floodlight
projectors. Groups of 8 units each were placed in 10 points of the
11-pointed star masonry base. On the eleventh point was installed a
battery of 16 flood lights to heighten the nighttime character of the
face of the statue."

NPS Historical Handbook: Statue of Liberty

"The architect for Liberty's pedestal, Richard Morris Hunt, was a
highly respected and popular designer of expensive homes. He designed
an 89-foot-high pedestal that would sit upon a concrete foundation
that would appear to grow up from within the 11-pointed, star-shaped
walls of the existing Fort Wood."

Statue of Liberty National Park: History

My Google search strategy: 

Google Web Search: "statue of liberty" pedestal "11 points OR pointed

Google Web Search: "fort wood" "11 points OR pointed

I hope this is helpful! If anything is unclear or incomplete, or if a
link doesn't work for you, please request clarification; I'll be glad
to offer further assistance before you rate my answer.

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by argonaftis-ga on 19 Sep 2006 18:54 PDT
I have another theory:

New York was the 11th state to be admitted to the Union.  Perhaps each
"star" represents the first 11 colonies.  What do you think?

Clarification of Answer by pinkfreud-ga on 19 Sep 2006 20:43 PDT
I'm sorry you were not fully satisfied by my answer. I doubt that the
11-pointed shape of the underlying fort was designed with any symbolic
meaning. None of the reference sources that I examined mentioned any
symbolisms. Forts' shapes are usually dictated by function. At the
time the fort was being designed, no one had any notion that the site
would later become so famous and meaningful.
argonaftis-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Please see the question posted in answer clarification.

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