Statue of Liberty crown to reopen to tourists on July 4

May 9th, 2009 - 11:24 am ICT by ANI  

New York, May 9 (ANI): American Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced that the crown of the Statue of Liberty will be reopened to tourists on July 4, to mark the 233rd birthday of the country.

This is the first time that visitors will be welcomed to the Statue of Liberty’s crown since terrorists toppled the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Salazar’s announcement came during an interview inside the icon’s crown on NBC’s “Today” show.

“There is nothing that symbolizes what America is — and the hope and optimism — than this statue of Liberty,” the New York Daily News quoted him as saying.

“This is part of our whole agenda of a new beginning, restoring confidence in the American people in their government and of our place in the world,” he added.

The U.S. politician also revealed that a “very comprehensive” safety review of the statue had been conducted.

“There are improvements that are going to have to be put into place,” he said.

He added that some of the improvement work would be over before the July 4 opening.

Salazar revealed that about 30 visitors an hour will be permitted to enter the crown for the first two years, and, thereafter, the statue will undergo a more significant “rehabilitation” in the hope of increasing the number of visitors to roughly 200,000 a year.

Telling that officials were “worried” about safety, Salazar also said that visitors would be trained before entering the statue, and that they would go through two layers of screening.

“People will have to understand that there are some risks associated with coming this high up, with this kind of limited space,” he said, referring to the narrow staircase that leads to Lady Liberty’s crown.

“It’s not going to be totally risk free. But it’s the same thing as in the Washington Monument - there’s a way we can do it,” he added.

According to him, the Government could decide on releasing tickets to Lady Liberty’s crown through a lottery system.

“We don’t want anybody because of their position or their wealth to have an advantage over anybody else. So, it’s going to be a very egalitarian program that we put together so that everybody has a chance to get up to the crown,” he said

Salazar also revealed that he was thrilled to be the one to make the decision to open the statue. (ANI)

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