New York City Center’s Replica of the Statue of Liberty, Rio de Janeiro

Barra da Tijuca’s replica of the Statue of Liberty

photography by: Omri Westmark

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An icon of freedom as well as the sheer greatness of the United States, the Statue of Liberty in NYC is by far the world’s most well-known sculpture. It should then come as no surprise that over the years, the monument inspired hundreds of replicas worldwide. Among the dozens of Lady Liberty’s clones throughout Brazil, a meticulously sculpted replica in an unassuming shopping mall in Rio de Janeiro provides an oddly authentic glimpse of the Big Apple.

In contrary to the rest of Rio de Janeiro, the upscale neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca was built merely four decades ago. Located in the westernmost part of Rio, the district’s masterplan was the brainchild of Lúcio Costa, best-known for devising Brasília’s pilot plan. Like the country’s nascent capital city, Barra da Tijuca is home to a glut of expansive highways surrounded by verdant residential zones and malls.


Inaugurated in 1999 along the busy Av. das Américas, New York City Center is yet another shopping center in Rio’s affluent suburbia. The rather mundane complex features tens of stores, 18 movie theaters and perhaps most notably, the article’s protagonist – a 35-meter-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty.


Made primarily of Styrofoam, the eye-catching sculpture is three time smaller than its original counterpart, and yet, it is apparently large enough to greet shoppers as well as commuters in the nearby motorway. Aptly resonating with the center’s pretentious name, the cloned statue stands at the entrance to the mall’s shopping arcade, overlooking a cluster of apartment blocks at the other side of the highway. Standing out amid its low-key surroundings, the facsimile was crafted with the utmost attention to details, and as such, boasts a surprisingly accurate depiction of Bartholdi and Eiffel’s famed statue.