Summer Fun: Goddess of Liberty, Vampire Slayer
Let me just get this out of the way. There's something you need to know about the pretty lady atop our capitol dome.
The original Goddess of Liberty statue, which graced the top of our state's capitol for over a hundred years, looks like Abraham Lincoln. Not Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter . No, this looks like the real guy. Same eyebrows and everything.
During the capitol tour I learned all about this behemoth, 2,000 pound statue and how she was taken down because her zinc and iron had eroded. For some reason we didn't go outside to look at the new one, the woman who took us on the tour just showed us a photo on her iPad (Capitol Tours are high tech now, apparently). Once they replaced Goddess for a younger model (thinner, too, at 1,100 pounds) the old Goddess needed a new home and the Bullock Texas State History Museum was all too glad to take the old girl in. Obviously, I had to see the old statue up close after learning about the swap. Just how eroded was the original statue?
Actually, the original goddess doesn’t look all that bad. I guess I expected a missing arm, rusted face, or at least for it to be missing the star. Despite my best predictions (those of a four-year-old), the statue basically looked okay, except for the fact that somebody obviously decided she should be a 15-foot tribute to Abe Lincoln. The museum plaque explains that the Goddess of Liberty was given “exaggerated features” so that people could see them more clearly even from the ground, 308 feet away. It’s these little nuggets of history that make Austin so special. And it’s instant gratification: go to the capitol and see the new Goddess of Liberty and then take a bus a few blocks away to the Texas History museum where you can see the real thing up close.
Texas weather is a bit loopy and unpredictable. Not only are the Capitol and Bob Bullock buildings protection from the elements, but there is real value in taking a second look around both places to find something new. Governor John Connally, who was shot (but survived) during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, has a portrait on the first floor of the rotunda, but I never put the two together. I wonder what I'm going to find out the next time I make the trip?
There's more to being a Texan than spurs and cowboy boots. There's history worth knowing about. This tour can help start you off.