Statues have long been used as a means to commemorate some of the most influential and memorable individuals in history.
Many civilizations from all regions across the Earth have erected statues to their leaders or religious figures.
In the United States, statues often depict some of the heroic pioneers or political leaders who helped found the young nation, as well as the religious foundations on which the country was founded.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the 10 most famous statues in America and examine the people that created them, as well as the reasons why they were made.
Famous Statues in America
1. Statue of Liberty
There is little doubt among those living in the United States, as well as elsewhere in the world, that the most famous statue in America is the Statue of Liberty.
It is the focal point of many pieces of artwork, photographs, films, and is considered a symbol of the western sense of ‘liberty.’ It is a massive structure that stands on Liberty Island, which is a small stretch of land just off the coast of Manhattan Island and New York City.
The Statue of Liberty was initially created as a gift from the people of France to the United States and was officially dedicated in 1886.
Also Read: Famous Statues in New York
It was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who worked on the project for years, completing it in different phases after finishing the lower body, midsection, torso and head. The Statue of Liberty is made out of copper and stands as one of the world’s tallest statues.
The tallest point of the Statue of Liberty stands at 305 feet, but it is placed on top of a 154-foot pedestal. The statue depicts the Roman goddess, Libertas, who is seen wearing a long robe and carrying a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other.
The torch is meant to represent the fire of liberty and the tablet bears the inscription JULY IV MDCCLXXVI—July 4, 1776, which was the date that the Declaration of Independence was signed.
2. Christ of the Ozarks
One of the most iconic religious statues in the United States is located deep in the heart of America’s lower midwestern region in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
It is also one of the largest and tallest statues in America and was erected in 1966 to serve as a commemorative display of Jesus and the values of the Christian religion.
The massive statue’s installation was made possible by Gerald L. K. Smith, who was a well-known preacher and political activist during the mid-20th century.
The Christ of the Ozarks statue is actually sitting on top of a mountain that’s made up of Magnetic Mountain. The statue stands at 66 feet in height and depicts the figure of Jesus with his arms outstretched at his sides, in the same position as Christian scholars say was likely for his crucifixion.
After its completion, Smith and fellow preacher, Huey P. Long dedicated the Christ of the Ozarks to Jesus Christ.
Today, the statue serves as the most popular tourist destination in the Eureka Springs area, drawing more than an estimated one million people each year.
Since it was erected, the Christ of the Ozarks has been featured in numerous artworks, films and other works throughout the years and is now recognized as a historic site in the state of Arkansas.
Portland, Oregon is considered to be one of the most culturally rich cities on the United State’s West Coast. One of the most famous landmarks in the city is a vividly-detailed and striking statue known as Portlandia.
It is unlike most other statues throughout American cities in that it is made of copper repoussé, which is a specialized type of metalworking in which the work is hammered from the reverse side to create the desired image.
Portlandia is the second-largest copper repoussé statue in the United States and is meant to serve as a depiction of the city of Portland’s official seal.
The statue is of Lady Commerce, who is seen holding a trident in her hand while reaching downward with her other. The city commissioned the statue in 1985 and it was designed and created by sculptor, Raymond Kaskey.
The statue is only slightly more than 34-feet-tall and sits at the entrance of the Portland Building in downtown Portland. It is considered to be one of the most iconic statues in any United States city and is a landmark in Portland.
4. The Three Soldiers
Another one of the most famous statues in the United States that’s made out of metal is the bronze work known as The Three Soldiers. Located in the National Mall of Washington, D.C., this stunning work is one that was created in 1984 as a way to commemorate veterans who fought in the Vietnam War.
Noted sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter worked on the project that was spearheaded by Frederick Hart. The group worked to perfect the design and placement of The Three Soldiers statue and it was the first work in the National Mall to feature the image of an African-American soldier.
The statue depicts three haggard, war-weary soldiers standing together. Each one appears to have their focus on something in the distance, or to be seeking the direction in which they should go.
The bronze statue is done in a life-sized version, which Carpenter and Hart said was meant to convey the reality of the horrors that many soldiers had to endure during the war.
One of the most iconic statues in America is one that represents a well-known figure from Greek mythology. The statue known as Atlas sits in Midtown Manhattan in front of the Rockefeller Center, which is a large courtyard situated along 48th Street and 51st Street in Midtown Manhattan.
The statue was completed in 1937 by sculptor Lee Lawrie, who worked alongside his friend and colleague, Rene Paul Chambellan.
The figure depicts the Greek mythological figure known as Atlas, who was a Titan and, according to legend and myth, had been charged to bear the weight of the Earth as punishment for some of his mistakes.
There are many other statues and sculptures that depict Atlas, but Lawrie and Chambellan’s depiction was done in an Art Deco style that was very popular during the early 20th century in the United States.
Instead of featuring vivid and realistic details, the statue is one that was done in more of a minimalist style that has since made it one of the most famous portrayals of Atlas in the world.
6. General William Tecumseh Sherman
General William Tecumseh Sherman is viewed as one of the most controversial figures from the American Civil War, which took place during the mid-19th century from 1861 to 1865.
Sherman was a Union general who used unconventional methods to defeat the Confederate soldiers, yet many historians view these tactics as war crimes or terroristic attacks as Sherman is known to have attacked the homes and towns full of civilians instead of clashing with the rebel army.
Sherman is represented in one of the most famous American statues that’s located in the United States capitol of Washington, D.C.
It was erected in 1903 and was commissioned by a veteran’s group known as the Army of the Tennessee in 1891. The General William Tecumseh Sherman statue is situated alongside many other American Civil War monuments in Washington, D.C.
The statue features Sherman mounted atop his horse on top of a high pedestal. It is a life-sized representation of the famous military leader and was designed by an artist named Carl Rohl-Smith, who later died before the monument could be finished.
Rohl-Smith’s wife asked fellow artists and sculptors Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, Theo Kitson and Jens Ferdinand Willumsen to finish the work.
7. Cloud Gate
Chicago, Illinois is one of America’s most populated cities outside of Los Angeles and New York City. It is well known for having many different landmarks that include statues and other pieces of artwork that represent various spheres of the Modern Art movement.
One of these statues is known as Cloud Gate, and is one of the most peculiar statues in any city in the United States.
Cloud Gate is a massive stainless-steel sculpture that presents visitors with a distorted view of themselves and their surroundings. It sits in the middle of what is now known at AT&T Park, which is located inside Millennium Park near Chicago’s Loop community area.
Locals fondly refer to this massive, odd-shaped structure as “The Bean” as it very much looks like a large metallic bean sitting in the middle of the expansive courtyard.
The Cloud Gate statue was designed by British artist Anish Kapoor and completed in 2006. It has since become a major tourist attraction and a local landmark for the Windy City.
8. Mount Rushmore
One of the most iconic statues in the United States is undoubtedly Mount Rushmore. This world-famous relief sculpture sits atop a mountain in the Black Hills or South Dakota near the city of Keystone.
The massive work was designed and planned during the early 20th century from 1927 to 1941 under the direction of famous American sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
The statue features the face and busts of four of the most well-known and influential leaders in American history. This includes George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.
Each one of the four heads measures roughly 60-feet-tall and sits on the southeastern face of Mount Rushmore where it is exposed to long hours of sunlight each day. Those who created the relief said that the four leaders were chosen to represent America’s birth, growth, development and preservation.
9. Abraham Lincoln
Historians and scholars point to one single statue as being the most-visited among all the monuments and statues situated in the nation’s capitol of Washington, D.C.
It is a representation of Abraham Lincoln, who is also featured as one of the four ‘heads’ on Mount Rushmore. This famous statue is placed inside of a structure known as the Honest Abe, but it’s official name is the Lincoln Memorial.
The work was designed by famous sculptor Daniel Chester French who meticulously planned the project during the early 1900’s.
Famous architect Henry Bacon would design the memorial building which the statue would be housed in, but both the structure and the statue combine to form one of the most iconic works in the United States.
The figure of Abraham Lincoln sits on a chair, his attention focused directly ahead as if he is looking out over the large reflecting pool toward the giant obelisk known as the Washington Monument.
French crafted the statue in stunning detail after studying numerous drawings, paintings and sketches of Lincoln.
10. The Spirit of Detroit
Detroit is one of the largest, most populated cities in America, but it features one of the most distinct statues in the country.
The large monument known as The Spirit of Detroit sits inside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center that’s located along Woodward Avenue, which is also referred to as “Detroit’s Main Street.”
The Spirit of Detroit is a large statue that was created and designed by Marshall Fredericks, who is one of the most celebrated sculptors and artists in American history and known for a slew of other notable works.
Despite being offered $58,000 at the time, the famous artist instead waived the commission profits and considered it part of his civic duty to create the work. It was finally finished in 1958 and includes the characteristic uniqueness that Fredericks was known for in his sculptures.
The Spirit of Detroit is a statue that features a large marble base and background which is inscribed with 2 Corinthians 3:17, which is a well-known verse from the Bible.
A large bronze image of a man is seated on the base and is holding a sphere in one hand and an angelic figure in the other.