Statue of Liberty to reopen by July 4

March 19, 2013 at 4:49 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, March 19 (UPI) -- The Statue of Liberty, closed since Hurricane Sandy struck last fall, will reopen by the Fourth of July, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday.

Salazar said despite the extensive damage the superstorm inflicted on the docks, power infrastructure and security screening system on Liberty Island in New York's harbor, "we are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it's safe for visitors and not a second later."

"Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4 celebration," Salazar, who made the announcement during a teleconference with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in an Interior Department release.

Schumer called Independence Day "the perfect day to reopen a symbol of our nation's freedom," adding it "speaks volumes about New York's resilience."

"Lady Liberty was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, but just like New York, she will be back -- and stronger than ever," he said. "Being open for the summer tourism season isn't just important symbolically, it's a boon to the city's economy and businesses, as the statue attracts millions of tourists from all over the world to our shores."

A National Park Service report last month said 3.7 million people visited the park in 2011, generating $174 million in economic activity and supporting 2,218 jobs.

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