Statue of Liberty to Close for Yearlong Renovation

Thursday, Aug 11, 2011  |  Updated 8:10 AM EDT
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Lady Liberty will be out of commission for an entire year, starting in October as it undergoes a $27.25 million renovation that will make the interior safer and more accessible, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday.

The renovations, however, are limited to the monument, and Liberty Island will remain open and the statue itself will be mostly unobstructed from view, officials said in a statement.

The National Parks Service, which manages the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said it will close the monument on Oct. 28, after the 125th anniversary of its dedication.

It will be closed the following day, and workers from Joseph Construction Corp. of Pine Brook, N.J., will install "code-complaint" stairways and upgrade electrical and fire suppression systems, elevators and bathrooms.

The National Parks Service told The Associated Press in August 2010 that it would close the statue's crown to upgrade the stairwells and improve safety at Lady Liberty. One reason: The newest fire codes mandate escape routes that would allow the statue to be evacuated within two hours, but the current staircases on either side of the pedestal do not meet the standards.

The statue was closed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks for security precautions, but the base reopened in 2004 after a $20 million security upgrade. The observation deck at the top of the crown was reopened on July 4, 2009.

The National Parks Service controls the number of visitors to the crown, saying about 240 people visit each day. About 3.5 million people visit the monument every year.

The statue was built in the 1880s, and was a gift from France.

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