Monday, August 15, 2011

Statue of Liberty to close for year

The Statue of LibertyNew York City (NYC) is one of the prime travel destinations in the world, and a location with a myriad of outstanding urban photographic opportunities. One of the great photographic opportunities in NYC is the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

If you're traveling to New York City in the fall, or planning a trip to NYC between late October, 2011 through late October, 2012, please be advised that from October 29, 2011 through approximately October, 2012, the Statue of Liberty will be closed to the public.

Liberty Island itself, on which the Statue of Liberty is located, will remain open during the project, and most of the time, most of the outside views of Lady Liberty will remain unobstructed.

Ellis Island has been undergoing restoration and renovations for a number of years, and there have been a number of erroneous reports in the press that Ellis Island will be closed. While the buildings which have been undergoing construction will remain closed until complete, the Immigration Museum, and the famous Great Hall on the 2nd  floor of the Museum, where so many immigrants to the US waited for their interviews with immigration inspectors, after finishing their medical exams, will remain open.

In fact, it's only the Statue of Liberty itself which will close starting this coming October.

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced, this week, that the Statue of Liberty will undergo a $27.25 million renovation that includes long-planned safety and other critical facility renovations beginning in late October.

Salazar stated, “Two years ago, when we reopened Lady Liberty’s crown to visitors for the first time since the September 11 attacks, I promised that we would continue to upgrade the interior to make it safer and more accessible for all. With today’s announcement, we are taking a major step in bringing a 19th Century icon into the 21st Century.”

Code compliant stairways will be installed within the monument. Its mechanical, electrical and fire suppression systems, will be updated. The Statue's elevators will be replaced, and its restrooms rehabilitated.
The improvements will allow for increased visitor access to the monument, including the pedestal and the museum.

The Statue will remain open to the public through the Oct. 28 celebration of the 125th anniversary of the statue’s dedication. It will then close on the 29th,for a year.

This isn't the first time since the Statue was erected that it was closed to visitors.

The Statue was closed for repairs in 1916 to fix damage from a serious explosion set off by German saboteurs. In 1938 the Statue was closed to repair damage due to rain water intrusion, and copper sheathing was installed to prevent more damage.

Prior to the Statue's centennial, in 1982, French and American engineers  gave it a detailed assessment and declared it was in need of substantial restoration. They found the right arm had been improperly attached to the main structure, and there was a significant risk of it literally falling off Lady Liberty's body. The head was installed 2 feet off center, and one of the rays in the crown was wearing a hole in the right arm when the statue swayed in the wind. Throughout the Statue the armature structure was badly corroded, and many exterior plates needed to be replaced.

President Ronald Reagan announced the formation of the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Centennial Commission, led by Chrysler Corporation chair Lee Iacocca, to raise the funds needed to complete the work. The Commission raised more than $350 million in donations.

The statue was closed to the public in 1984 for almost 2 years. Scaffolding was erected which obscured the Statue from view. In addition to the Statue's restoration, the torch, which was found to have been leaking water since the 1916 repairs was replaced with an exact replica of the Statue designer's, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, unaltered torch, new night lighting was installed, a modern elevator was installed, allowing handicapped access to the observation area of the pedestal, and an emergency elevator was installed within the statue, reaching up to the level of the shoulder.

July 3–6, 1986, was designated "Liberty Weekend", marking the centennial of the statue and its reopening. President Reagan presided over the rededication, with French President François Mitterrand in attendance.
Since then, the Statue hasn't been closed for repair or restoration, but following the September 11 attacks, the Statue and Liberty Island were immediately closed to the public. The island reopened at the end of 2001, but the pedestal and Statue remained closed; off-limits.

It wasn't until August 2004, that the pedestal was opened, but the National Park Service announced that visitors could not safely be given access to the statue due to the difficulty of evacuation in an emergency. The Park Service continued to keep the Statue closed for the remainder of the Bush administration.

New York Congressman Anthony D. Weiner crusaded to have the Statue reopened and on May 17, 2009, President Barack Obama's Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced the Statue would be reopened to the public on July 4, but that only a limited number of people would be permitted to ascend to the crown each day. It's been open ever since.


Erin said...

I'm visiting New York for Thanksgiving and the Statue of Liberty was going to be a highlight of the trip. Do you think we should we still go?

Jon said...

That was interesting. I had no idea sabotage was ever carried out on the Statue. I've lived in New York my whole life and have never been there. I guess it's time.

Ned S. Levi said...

Hi Erin,

I hope you're going to the Macy's Parade. I think it's the best of the Thanksgiving parades, with or without children.

If you're going yourself or with another adult(s), I'd definitely go. If you're going with young children, I'd still go. If you're going with teens, then maybe not.

Here's my reasoning. Both the pedestal and the Statue will be closed. That means the museum is closed, unless plans are modified, as well as the climb up the Statue. For adults being on the island and seeing the Statue up close, and seeing NY Harbor may be more than enough. By missing the pedestal you miss the museum and the observation decks at the top of the pedestal. I don't think small kids will miss it, plus the 354 step climb to the top will be too much for most of them. The steps are narrow and it's really not safe for them, in my opinion.

For teens, on the other hand, I think they will be very disappointed, but ask them, they might want to go anyway.

Aileen said...

Once the Statue is open again next year, do you know if they will allow people to climb up to the torch again to get the higher view from the gallery around it?

Ned S. Levi said...

Aileen, the torch has been closed to the public since 1916. The National Park Service has no plans to open to the public at any time in the future, to the best of my knowledge.

Access to the torch is solely by a ladder, not stairs. Giving access to the torch would be dangerous, in my opinion, and that of NPS.

heather said...

Do they have a ferry that just cruises up close around the statue or do they all dock? I'm not sure whether it is worth it or not to get off the ferry. We have time constraints and will be with 4 kids ages 9-12.What is there to do on Liberty island since the statue will be closed. we are visiting NYC 2nd week of November. Thank you for your input-Heather

Ned S. Levi said...

Heather, the company which has the concession to stop at Liberty Island, and Ellis Island stops at both. You don't have to get off. There is little to do once the inside of the statue is closed as that's where the museum is too, on the island. The Park Service has so far indicated for safety sake, it will be closed the whole time the Statue is closed.

My kids at that age, perhaps due to my wife and I, enjoyed seeing historic sites. Since I have always traveled a great deal for work, but had time for other things, we often took the kids with us, and Ellis Island and seeing the Great Hall is amazing and moving, more for an adult. Since I don't know your kids, I don't know what to tell you about seeing these.

If you're not going to stop in at least at Ellis Island, then you might be better with the Circle Line harbor tour which sees more and includes getting fairly close to Liberty and Ellis Island, but they don't stop there.

One other suggestion. The Empire State building visit is great and kids love it, but for photos (the site is about photography) don't miss 30 Rock. The view from their observation deck includes the Empire State Building. When on the ESB, the view and photos of the NYC skyline are great, but they don't include the building, of course. You might want to purchase tickets in advance. (No tripods or monopods are allowed on either of these two buildings.

Oh, do the kids include boys? If they do, something my mom took me to as a boy, and I took my kids is the armor exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There the kids can see how knights really dressed, and they can see the armor for horses, the swords, etc. Most people don't think of an art museum for kids, but there are some treasures there for them.

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