This post on the Quartz website tells the story behind the Statue of Liberty’s unexpected transformation into a beacon for refugees and immigrants.

Originally intended as a symbol of friendship between France and the US, the Statue of Liberty eventually took on new meaning due to a obscure poetry contest launched as part of a fund raising effort to help pay for the statue’s completion.  It was the winning poemThe New Colossus by Emma Lazarus with its now-famous lines—”Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” that helped give Lady Liberty her current meaning “as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.”  

(Thanks to John Riley of Gabriel Books for providing ATG Quirkies)