NEW YORK --
Shortly before President George W. Bush took the podium at the
Republican National Convention here on Sept. 2, New Yorks Gov.
George Pataki, in a speech to the delegates, alluded to the day
that the Statue of Liberty reopened in New Yorks great, grand
We had to close
her after Sept. 11, but we opened her again a few weeks ago, he
said. That was a good day.
I was there that
day, Aug. 3, the day it reopened. The terrorist threat to the city
was at an elevated level. Soldiers patrolled the
Yet to many, the
reopening of the statue was a pivotal event in the citys
people formed a line that stretched through Battery Park, farther
than I could see, waiting to board the ferry to Liberty Island
where we would be among the first visitors in three years to enter
We found access to the interior
of the statue, which had undergone $27 million in renovations and
security improvements, still very limited and security very tight.
A timed pass for visiting the inside of the monument is now
We went through
one set of metal detectors and scanners to board the ferry, and
through a second security checkpoint to enter the base of the
The body scanners
at the second checkpoint included new air puffers for detecting
explosives, according to Fran Mainella, director of the National
Park Service, who was on hand for the opening.
The island alone
had reopened Dec. 20, 2001. Visitors had been allowed to walk up to
the base of the monument.
people took the ferry to the island during the intervening years
between the reopening of the island and the reopening of the statue
-- about half the number of visitors that came before 9/11,
according to Mainella.
Now we could
enter the base, stop at the museum, take an elevator ride followed
by a walk up a 24-step stairway to a viewing area at the foot of
the statue, 154 feet above the ground.
We also could
walk outside onto a walled-in ledge within a few feet of the top of
the pedestal and onto the star-shaped promenade atop Fort Wood,
where the base of the statue is mounted.
offers dramatic, close-up views of the 305-foot structure, which
was the tallest in New York when the statue was mounted in
goes as high as the promenade. The higher level is only accessible
by a stairway.
Visitors are no longer
allowed to climb up into the inner structure of the statue. But
windows have been provided at the landing at the foot of the
statue, which enabled us to look up into the internal framework
designed by Gustave Eiffel, who later built the tower in Paris that
bears his name.
The view of the
statues interior provides a glimpse of the ingenious design of the
lightweight frame that holds up the hammered-copper surface, which
is only the thickness of two pennies.
When we walked
into the building, we entered a lobby where the statues original
torch serves as the centerpiece. (The torch Lady Liberty holds now
was raised during the statues centenary.)
A guide led us up
one flight of stairs to the museum and around displays of artifacts
that tell the history of the statue, including posters,
photographs, diagrams, a full-size replica of the statues face and
one of its feet.
There is no
charge to enter the statue or the buildings on Ellis Island, but
passage on the ferry, which provides the only access to both
islands, costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 62 and over and
$4 for children ages 4 to 12. Liberty Island is open 9:30 a.m. to 5
p.m. daily. For more information, call (212) 363-3200. For more
information on the statue and the park, see www.nps.gov/stli/.
The ferry is
operated by Circle Line-Statue of Liberty Ferry. One roundtrip
ferry ticket includes visits to both Liberty Island and Ellis
Island. For information on ferry schedules, call (212) 269-5755 for
Battery Park departures and (201) 435-9499 for Liberty Park, N.J.,
departures, or log onto www.statueoflibertyferry.com.
available in limited numbers for walk-ins at the ferry box offices
or by advance reservation by calling (866) STATUE4 (for U.S.
callers only). International callers must call the ferry office at
(212) 269-5755. A $1.75 handling fee will be charged for each
advance ticket. Reservations can be made online at www.statuereservations.com.
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].