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Five Famous Symbols of American Culture 背景知识/background information

1. the Statue of Liberty
    The idea of creating the Statue of Liberty began in France at a dinner party hosted by Edouard Rene Lefebvre Laboulaye, a scholar. Laboulaye and Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, a sculptor, began to discuss the idea of presenting the United States with a monument to memorialize independence and human liberty. 
    Bartholdi sailed from France to New York on June 8, 1871, to propose the building of the statue to honor the friendship between France and the United States. As the ship pulled into New York Harbor, Bartholdi spotted the perfect location, Liberty Island. 
    During his trip to the United States, he met with US President Ulysses S. Grant; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet; Horace Greeley, a New York editor and politician; and others. Bartholdi traveled across the United States carrying a sketch of the statue and a small model. Everyone was receptive, but financial backing was difficult to find. 
    For more information about the Statue of Liberty, please visit http://www.nps.gov/stli/.


2. Barbie dolls
    It was the late 1950s when Ruth Handler noticed her daughter playing with paper dolls and imagining them in grown-up roles. Since most dolls at the time were baby dolls, Ruth envisioned one that would inspire little girls to think about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Ruth created a teenage fashion model doll named Barbie (after her daughter), and the rest is history.
    Barbie has been an integral part of the lives of millions of young girls. Her timeless appeal has resulted in a dedicated legion of fans that love to collect her. 
    To read more about the history of Barbie dolls, check out the web page at http://www.people.virginia.edu/~tsawyer/barbie/barb.html. To view a sample collection of Barbie dolls, take a look at http://www.barbie.com.


3. Mattel Toy Company
    Mattel is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of toy products. The company's core brands include Barbie, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Fisher-Price, and American Girl. With headquarters in El Segundo, California, Mattel has offices and facilities in 36 countries and sells its products in more than 150 nations throughout the world. 
    For more information about the company as well as Barbie dolls, please visit http://www.mattel.com.


4. American Gothic
    Grant Wood came to Eldon in the late 1920's with fellow artist and Eldon native, John Sharp. He was inspired by the contrast of the modest little one-and-one-half- story frame house with its (as he described it) “pretentious” Gothic style windows. There is one in each gable end. He sketched the house on the back of an envelope and used it as the backdrop in his world-renowned 1930's painting American Gothic. His sister, Nan, and his dentist, Dr. B. H. McKeeby, posed as the sour-faced couple. Wood intended the couple to represent a typical small town resident and his daughter, but most interpret them as man and wife. Since completion, Grant Wood's 1930 painting American Gothic has become a critically acclaimed work that continues to enjoy enormous popularity. It also has become an American icon and is the model for a countless number of commercial art parodies, such as posters, cards, and souvenirs. The painting hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. 
    To read more about Wood, take a look at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA98/haven/wood/gallery4.html.


5. Buffalo nickel
    In 1911 sculptor James Earl Fraser began designing the “Buffalo” nickel. Fraser said the portrait on the “head's” side was a composite of three American Indians—Iron Tail, Big Tree and Two Moons. Fraser had the opportunity to study and photograph them when they stopped off in New York on their way to Washington to visit President Theodore Roosevelt. By borrowing features from each individual, Fraser was able to sketch the “ideal” portrait for the nickel. 
    The model for the “tail's” side of the coin was none other than Black Diamond, the most contrary animal in New York's Bronx Zoo. He was born of stock donated by the Barnum and Bailey circus. In his prime, his coat was unusually dark, and he weighed more than 1500 pounds. 
    Fraser stood for hours, trying to catch his form and mood in clay. But Black Diamond stubbornly refused to show his side view, and faced the artist most of the time. Only by bribing a zoo attendant to distract the animal was Fraser finally able to capture the likeness he wanted. 
    President William Howard Taft approved the art work, and the first “Buffalo” nickels were produced in February of 1913. Two Moons died in 1917, and Iron Tail and Big Tree in the 1920s. In the 1960s, a second Big Tree appeared at coin shows and claimed to be the Native American on the nickel. Although he claimed to have celebrated his 100th birthday in 1962, later records indicated he was actually only 87. 
    For more information about the Buffalo nickel, please visit
http://www.money.org/h_tml/edu_nick.html.


6. James Earle Fraser
    Fraser was born in Minnesota in 1876, but grew up on a ranch in South Dakota. His first art instructor was a town whittler. Later, Fraser studied art in Chicago and Paris and established a studio in Westport, Connecticut. He was only 17 when he completed the first modeling of “The End of the Trail”. The statue portrays a weary native American riding an equally forlorn horse. At an exhibition in Paris in 1898, “The End of the Trail” won a $1,000 cash prize. Despite the pressure of other projects, Fraser worked on “The End of the Trail” off and on throughout his career. Today a large version of the statue is in the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western History Center in Oklahoma City, which also has Fraser's sketches for the “tail's” side of the Buffalo nickel. 
    When the Buffalo nickel finally made its debut in 1913, a coin collector's magazine hailed it as a true work of art, powerfully modelled. Many critics agreed, and in 1951 the American Academy of Arts and Letters presented Fraser with a gold medal honoring a lifetime of distinguished achievement. On October 11, 1953, James Earle Fraser died. 
    For more information, see http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/fraser_james_earle.html.


7. New York City's Central Park
    Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States. Advocates of creating the park — primarily wealthy merchants and landowners — admired the public grounds of London and Paris and urged that New York needed a comparable facility to establish its international reputation. A public park, they argued, would offer their own families an attractive setting for carriage rides and provide working-class New Yorkers with a healthy alternative to the saloon. After three years of debate over the park site and cost, in 1853 the state legislature authorized the City of New York to use the power of eminent domain to acquire more than 700 acres of land in the center of Manhattan. 
    For more information about Central Park, please visit http://www.centralpark.org.


8. New York City's Central Park Zoo
    New York City's Central Park Zoo is part of the Central Park establishment. For more information about Central Park Zoo, please visit http://www.centralpark.org.


9. Uncle Sam
    Historians aren't completely certain how the character “Uncle Sam” was created, or who (if anyone) he was named after. 
    The prevailing theory is that Uncle Sam was named after Samuel Wilson. Wilson was born in Arlington, Mass., on September 13, 1766. His childhood home was in Mason, New Hampshire. In 1789, he and his brother Ebenezer walked to Troy, New York.
    During the War of 1812, Wilson was in the business of slaughtering and packing meat. He provided large shipments of meat to the US Army, in barrels that were stamped with the initials “US”. Supposedly, someone who saw the “US” stamp suggested — perhaps as a joke — that the initials stood for “Uncle Sam” Wilson. The suggestion that the meat shipments came from “Uncle Sam” led to the idea that Uncle Sam symbolized the federal government.
    Samuel Wilson died in 1854. His grave is in the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy.
    The single most famous portrait of Uncle Sam is the “I WANT YOU” Army recruiting poster from World War I. The poster was painted by James Montgomery Flagg in 1916-1917.
    For more information about Uncle Sam, please visit http://web.mit.edu/invent/www/inventorsR-Z/unclesam.html.