The crown of the Statue of Liberty will reopen to the public on Sunday – the 126th anniversary of its dedication – after a year-long renovation to make the New York landmark safer and more accessible to people in wheelchairs.
The $30-million (U.S.) renovation of the statue, which towers over Liberty Island in New York Harbour, improved fire alarms, sprinkler systems and exit routes to bring Lady Liberty in line with New York safety codes, the National Park Service said.
There are also more stairs than ever before, with a daunting 393 steps to the crown, where there were previously 354 slightly steeper steps. Wheelchair accessible elevators inside the pedestal bring visitors to just below Lady Liberty’s sandals.
Visitors in wheelchairs, who could view the statue only from the ground before, can now ascend to the top of statue’s pedestal and see inside the structure.
A new air-conditioning system will cool the interior of the copper-clad monument, which previously could get up to 20 degrees hotter than outdoors at the height of summer.
About 3 1/2 million people visit Liberty Island every year, although most do not go inside the statue, park officials say. With the improvements, an additional 26,000 will be able to ascend to the crown each year.