When Will We Get Inside Lady Liberty's Head?
In what would be a reversal of current policy, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar seemed to all but reopen the Statue of Liberty's crown to public access today, but said the Interior Department would wait for the results of a feasibility study due in April before taking action.
“As a U.S. senator and now as secretary of the interior, I believe the crown should be re-opened to the public if at all possible," Salazar said during a visit to New York's Liberty Island. "I am here today to tour the statue and promise to work hard with the National Park Service to explore all feasible alternatives to re-opening it.”
The Park Service closed the Statue of Liberty and nearby Ellis Island to the public following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The statue's pedestal was reopened to the public in Aug. 2004. There is broad support in New York and New Jersey for granting full public access to Liberty's crown, but the Park Service has deemed it risky especially since the narrow staircase to the crown -- originally intended for maintenance workers, not visitors -- might need reinforcement. Visitors also might have to sign a waiver in the future in order to enjoy the unrivaled view.
As a senator, Salazar joined with other lawmakers asking the Park Service to determine what if any physical changes would be needed to bring Lady Liberty into compliance with various fire and safety codes. Baltimore-based Hughes Associates, a fire protection consulting firm, is expected to release the findings of that congressionally-mandated study in mid April, with a special focus on accommodating public access to "the statue’s interior up to and including the crown," according to the Interior Department.
“We will explore all opportunities to re-open the crown while reducing risk to the public,” Salazar said today. “I hope we can find a way. It would proclaim to the world -- both figuratively and literally -- that the path to the light of liberty is open to all.”
Should visitors have access to the Statue of Liberty's crown? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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