March 10, 2014
Statue of Liberty interior to close for renovation
The Statue of Liberty will undergo a year-long safety overhaul, temporarily closing its interior to visitors at the end of October on the 125th anniversary of its dedication.
Tourists will still be able to visit Lady Liberty's home on Liberty Island and views of the statue in New York Harbor will be largely unobstructed during the $27.25 million renovation, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.
"Two years ago, when we reopened Lady Liberty's crown to visitors for the first time since the September 11 attacks, I promised that we would continue to upgrade the interior to make it safer and more accessible for all," Salazar said in a statement on Wednesday.
The monument's stairs, elevators and electrical and mechanical systems will be modernized to improve safety and widen access, bringing "a 19th Century icon into the 21st Century," he said.
Tegan Firth, a spokeswoman for Statue Cruises, which operates the ferry services to Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island, said she expects most visitors to the monument will be unaffected as the majority do not go inside the statue.
"For us, it's business as usual," Firth said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Each day a maximum of 2,500 visitors are permitted inside the statue's base and pedestal. Another 240 visitors are allowed to climb inside up to the crown. But on a busy summer day some 18,000 people visit the island, she said.
Even with the interior closed, tourists can visit the island's cafe and gift shop, participate in audio tours and gather information from National Park rangers on site.
"You're still on the island, you still get this majestic view of the statue," Firth said.
The interior will be open until Oct. 28, the 125th anniversary of Lady Liberty's dedication. The copper-covered statue was a gift to the United States from France. About 3.5 million people visit every year.