Passes, Hours Set at Liberty Island

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NEW YORK -- The National Park Service said it is taking steps to alleviate visitor overcrowding and heat-related medical emergencies at the Statue of Liberty this summer.

Starting June 28, the National Park Service will extend summer hours at the 112-year-old monument and implement a pass system for visitors who wish to climb to Lady Liberty's crown.

Circle Line Statue of Liberty ferries will depart from Battery Park in lower Manhattan and from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., beginning at 8:30 a.m. seven days a week.

The last boats will leave both cities at 4 p.m.; the last ferries will depart Liberty Island at 7 p.m.

The expanded schedule will be in effect through Sept. 7.

Meanwhile, during July and August, only those passengers on the 8:30 a.m. ferries will receive special passes to climb to the crown in an effort to reduce heat-related medical problems during the hottest part of the day. The Park Service said pass holders can get in line to climb to the crown until noon. The restrictions apply only to those wishing to climb to the crown, with all other areas of the statue and Liberty Island operating as usual.

In previous years during July and August, more than 1 million people visited Liberty Island, often encountering waits of up to five hours to purchase tickets, board ferries and enter the monument.

Once inside the statue, visitors wishing to climb to the crown must climb a narrow spiral staircase consisting of 354 steps in temperatures often reaching 100 degrees. At best, only 350 people per hour can be accommodated in the crown.

When the Statue of Liberty reopened to the public in July of 1986, following an extensive face-lift, the National Park Service anticipated 2.1 million visitors a year with a maximum of 13,000 visitors a day. Soon after reopening, however, as many as 20,000 people a day were lining up to visit Liberty Island.

The monument attracted more than 3.8 million visitors last year, according to Liberty Island superintendent Diane Dayson.

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