Urban legend or truth? According to some, the ceiling fresco of the Statue of Liberty above the entrance of New York Coffee House was in place before the unveiling of the statue itself…But is that really so?
The opening and splendor of New York Café
New York Café dates back to 1894; its magnificent world class services immediately magnetised both the traditional and the intellectual-literary aristocracy of the country.
New York Café and the legend of the Statue of Liberty
At that time, the 19th century French republic didn’t seem as robust to many as they would have hoped. This is why – as well as for strategic political reasons – France prepared a gift, a monumental statue, for America, to mark the centenary of the declaration of its independence. Because of the gravity of the situation, the idea of the statue went through many drafts before its construction could begin: Édouard René Lefebvre de Laboulaye, a politician and historian, took charge of negotiations regarding proposals for the most appropriate gift for the occasion. In the end, the idea of the statue was agreed upon and Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, was commissioned to design its blueprint for 1876. The first, small version of the statue was built in today’s Luxembourg gardens, in 1870. The two countries agreed that while the statue would be made in France, its base would take shape on American soil.
To raise the necessary funds for the project, France introduced a number of extra taxes. It even staged fundraising events and organised lotteries to so that they may reach their target of 2 250 000 francs sooner. On the other side of the Atlantic, charity balls and boxing matches fulfilled this function. The base of the statue was eventually completed on April 22, 1886. The statue itself had already been finished by July 1884 in France. The statue comprises 350 pieces, which were transported in 214 separate packages aboard the frigate Isere on June 17, 1885. The statue was unveiled by Grover Cleveland on October 28, 1886, in front of the gathered inhabitants of the city.
The opening of New York Coffee House
So, the only question that still remains is “which came first?” New York Coffee House first opened in 1894, nearly a decade after the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty.
The legend is therefore untrue – the Statue of Liberty does in fact predate its likeness in the Coffee House – which, of course, doesn’t make the fresco and its surroundings any less compelling to behold.