Sunday, July 29, 2012

Liberty enlightening... the Butler police station?

Our recent visit to Butler brought about a somewhat puzzling find; one that led me to discover a little known link between the borough and the great New York Harbor.

They're both home to the Statue of Liberty.

Yup, you read that right. Lady Liberty surveys downtown Butler from the balcony of the police station.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the statue as much as the average American, maybe even more. I still cling to the belief that she stands in New Jersey, despite a 1998 Supreme Court decision that upheld the bi-state compact that deemed Liberty Island to be within New York borders. Other New Jerseyans feel so strongly about her that they've erected their own renditions of her on their property.

However, I have never seen a copy of the statue on public property. Why Butler? I mean, it's a perfectly nice town, and I'm not saying they aren't entitled to a Statue of Liberty, but what's the special significance for that community?

The answer may come from a long ago friendship. The town's namesake, business executive Richard Butler, was an art lover and was one of the founders of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among his friends was Frederic Bartholdi, sculptor of the Statue of Liberty that stands in New York Harbor. My guess is that the statue somehow memorializes that friendship, giving the town their tenuous but clearly prized relationship to Liberty Enlightening the World. There's even a Bartholdi Avenue in town, making it even more certain, in my mind, at least, that the local statue is no coincidence.

We didn't try to see if we could get closer to the Butler version to check it out -- it's at the police station, after all -- but it looked pretty authentic. Except for the color, that is. Perhaps she was erected to celebrate the 100th birthday of her counterpart in the Harbor?

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