The Statue of Liberty is among the most recognizable icons in the world, welcoming millions of future Americans en route to Ellis Island since its dedication in 1886.
But since New York City was attacked on September 11, 2001, Lady Liberty’s crown has been closed to visitors.
Starting July 4, 2009, just in time for America’s 233rd birthday, the Statue of Liberty will once again welcome travelers to the top of its commanding heights.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement on the Today show this morning from a live broadcast from inside the crown.
While Liberty Island, including the base of the statue and its pedestal, was reopened in August 2004, the statue itself, including the 168 steps up to the crown, has remained off-limits to the public.
When it reopens on July 4, 2009, almost eight years since it was closed after 9/11, the number of visitors will initially be limited small groups of 30 led by a guide.
The groups of 30 (about one per hour) will be chosen by lottery, although Salazar admitted that this process had not yet been fully worked out.
The reopening of Lady Liberty’s crown is a welcome boost for local tourism officials, who rightly view it as one of their most important assets. About 3.6 million people visited in 2000 before the closure, and visitor levels have been climbing back upward ever since.
In 2007, an estimated 3.2 million travelers visited, up from just 2.5 million in 2006.
For New Yorkers still struggling with the aftereffects of 9/11, Lady Liberty’s light could lead the way toward an ever-greater sense of normalcy.
By Matthew Calcara for PeterGreenberg.com.
Don’t miss more great ideas for travel in New York with our Off the Brochure Travel Guide to New York City.
For culinary adventures in New York, don’t miss Three Days, Nine Meals: New York City.
Learn more about America’s greatest treasures with our National Parks section.