It is about effing time!
The Department of the Interior announced today that access to the interior of the statue will be permitted by July 4th, 2009, albeit with some limitations. Most notably, access will be restricted to 10 people at a time, along with a Park Service Ranger.
“On July 4th, we are giving America a special gift,” [Secretary of the Interior Ken] Salazar said. “We are once again inviting the public to celebrate our great nation and the hope and opportunity it symbolizes by climbing to Lady Liberty’s crown for a unique view of New York Harbor, where the forbearers of millions of American families first saw the new world.”
The crown was closed in 2001 amid “safety concerns,” also known as irrational panic by the government. Since then parts of the statue have been reopened but the climb to the crown has not. The Park Service has previously maintained that it is dangerous because it is hot and the stairs are difficult to navigate. That may be true, but the interior climb was open for a long time and it wasn’t too dangerous then. Fortunately a more reasonable approach is being taken now.
Unfortunately this access is only for a short period of time. The Statue will be closed in two years to allow for a more comprehensive upgrades to the interior of the statue to improve accessibility to the crown.
Getting to the crown will almost certainly require a different “special” ticket for access (I can’t wait to see how much those sell for or if a secondary market appears) and will also require waiting in line to get into the pedestal, a line that was over an hour on a not-too-busy April afternoon. Still, it is nice to see that some of the less rational decisions our government has made are being peeled back, slowly but surely.
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