NEW YORK -- The Statue of Liberty, which has been closed since
9/11, will reopen to visitors this summer following security and
safety improvements, although the interior above the statue's
pedestal will remain off limits, officials said.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton said it would take about four
months to complete the improvements that will allow visitors inside
the statue's pedestal, which houses a museum and an observation
deck located about 16 stories above the water line.
Because of concerns about terrorism, Norton said there are no
plans to allow visitors to enter the interior of the statue, which
was permitted prior to 9/11.
"Safety of citizens and preservation of the statue are our main
goals," Norton said. After 9/11, "We had to reassess what it means
to provide an appropriate level of safety and emergency services
for our visitors, especially at a location that is an attractive
terrorist target," Norton said.
Visitors will be able to view the statue's interior through a
newly created glass ceiling inside the base. Safety improvements
will include upgraded emergency exits, fire-control systems and
Additional screening procedures will be implemented, and
visitors will be required to reserve tickets to the statue before
boarding ferries to Liberty Island.
By the end of the year, approximately $30 million will have been
spent on improvements to the 118-year-old monument.
Currently, tourists can visit Liberty Island, which reopened in
December 2001, but are not allowed inside the 151-foot statue or
Prior to 9/11, some 4 million people a year visited Liberty
Island, but the numbers had dropped by nearly 45% by the end of
To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].