NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Statue of Liberty will be closed for security upgrades starting about a year from now, depriving tourists a chance to visit the crown, base and pedestal for up to 12 months.
Visitors to one of New York’s most popular attractions will still be able to visit the park surrounding the statue on Liberty Island but the security upgrade will restrict access to the statue after October 12, 2011, when the statue celebrates its 125th anniversary.
The $26 million dollar project will add fire-proof staircases, elevators and exits, said David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The only exit from the top of the 22-story observation deck is one narrow staircase.
More than 5 million people visit the landmark every year, with 20,000 tourists a day flocking to the site during the summer.
The statue was briefly evacuated in July following a false fire alarm, but the park has long been planning to improve security, Luchsinger said.
“It’s a monumental task, to say the least,” Luchsinger said.
The statue was closed after the attacks of September 11, 2001. It reopened in 2004 but the crown observation deck remained off limits until last year.
Reporting and writing by Karina Ioffee; Editing by Daniel Trotta