Thursday, August 11, 2011

Statue of Liberty To Close In October For Renovations and Security Upgrades

Despite calls from several members of Congress to keep the Statue of Liberty open and accessible during renovations and security improvements, the Statue will close to visitors beginning in October and running for about a year.
The National Park Service, which manages the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said it will close the monument on Oct. 28, after the 125th anniversary of its dedication.

It will be closed the following day, and workers from Joseph A. Natoli Construction Corp., of Pine Brook will install "code-compliant" stairways and upgrade electrical and fire suppression systems, elevators and bathrooms.

The National Parks Service told The Associated Press in August 2010 that it would close the statue's crown to upgrade the stairwells and improve safety at Lady Liberty.

One reason, the service said at the time, was that the newest fire codes mandate escape routes that would allow the statue to be evacuated within two hours, but the current staircases on either side of the pedestal do not meet the standards.

The statue was closed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks for security precautions, but the base reopened in 2004 after a $20 million security upgrade. The observation deck at the top of the crown was reopened on July 4, 2009.

The National Parks Service controls the number of visitors to the crown, saying about 240 people visit each day. About 3.5 million people visit the monument every year.
The main staircase, which is part of the structure holding up the copper skin of the statue within the statue, was designed by none other than Gustaf Eiffel, who designed and built the epoynmous Eiffel Tower in Paris. The spiral staircase is a dizzying trek up to the crown and that's one of the reasons that the crown was closed for so long after 9/11.

While the NPS says that the work will affect a minority of those visiting Liberty Island, the fact is that the NPS has been limiting access to the statue for years, and that's limited the number of people who can potentially be affected by the work. There's no word on whether the construction work will expand the number of people who can make the trek up to the crown.

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