Instead of residing in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was initially intended to be a gift to Egypt from the French of a poor Muslim woman in traditional garb as a symbol in the Suez Canal, according to Smithsonian magazine.
The original structure was intended to be an 86-foot-tall figure of hope and liberty called “Egypt Carrying The Light to Asia” and would become a symbol of “progress”. However, it was dismissed by the Egyptian ruler at the time, Isma’il Pasha.
It was also supposed to act as a lighthouse for the man-made canal, which was completed in 1869. Instead of the torch held in the statue we know, Lady Liberty was to hold a lantern.
The statue, which was created by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and designed by Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower, was “intended to represent a female Egyptian peasant as a Colossus of Rhodes for the Industrial Age,” according to The Daily Beast.
After Egypt refused the statue, it was modified to be a gift to America from the people of France.
It became part of the New York skyline and an American icon in 1886 when it was unveiled in the harbor. The statue towers 305 feet, nearly four times higher than the original design.