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Lady Liberty now wheelchair accessible

Lady Liberty now wheelchair accessible
A New York Fire Department boat sprays water as the USS New York passes her near the Statue of Liberty in New York on November 7, 2009. UPI/Danielle Bacon/U.S. Marines | License Photo

NEW YORK, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The Statue of Liberty in New York will be wheelchair accessible for the first time when it opens this weekend after a year of renovations, officials said.

Statue of Liberty Superintendent David Luchsinger said the renovations, which include installing new staircases and an elevator designed for wheelchair-bound guests who wish to visit the observation decks, will allow about 26,000 more people to visit the monument per year when it reopens on its 126th birthday Sunday, CNN reported Thursday.

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Luchsinger said about 3.5 million people visit the statue each year.

"Folks that have never been able to maneuver on the staircases can now go all the way up to the observation deck and experience that," he said. "She's not only our Statue of Liberty, she's the world's Statue of Liberty."

Larry Hughes, a Vietnam War veteran, was chosen as the first wheelchair user to test out the elevator.

"You see this stuff on TV ... but to actually be here, it takes on a whole brand new dimension," Hughes said.

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