The Interior Department has announced that tours of the Statue of Liberty will be suspended for approximately one year beginning on October 29, 2011, as the interior of the famed icon of freedom undergoes a long-planned $27.25 million renovation project intended to improve visitor safety and accessibility.
According to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty stands, will remain open during the project, with National Park Rangers available to provide interpretation to Statue of Liberty visitors.
National Parks Service (NPS) statistics show that over 70% of the 3.5 million annual visitors to the Statue of Liberty tour the grounds of Liberty Island only.
Improvements to the interior of the Statue of Liberty herself will include new stairways and elevators, and upgrades to mechanical, electrical and fire suppression systems, and restrooms. The NPS says the work will allow for better visitor access to the Statue, as well as the pedestal and museum.
The Statue's interior, including the crown, will remain open to the public through October 28, the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the statue's dedication, and be closed the following day.
Tours of the Statue of Liberty are by reservation only. Tours of the crown are currently limited to 240 visitors per day. Reservations can be made by calling 1-877-LADY-TIX or online at: http://www.statuecruises.com/.
Funding for the project is coming from the National Parks Service's annual budget appropriation and the franchise fees paid by park concessionaires.
Dedicated on October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was gift from the government of France to the American people. The Statue was named a National Monument in 1924 and as a World Heritage Site in 1984. The last major restoration project was undertaken for the Statue's centennial on July 4, 1986.
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Photo: Statue of Liberty - Spencer Platt/Getty Images