FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 30, 2004
Schumer To Feds: Reopen Statue Of Liberty Crown To Visitors - Not Just Statue Base
Schumer asks Secretary of Interior to confirm commitment to reopen crown in light of conflicting statements on whether only the Statue's base will open
US Senator Charles E. Schumer today asked US Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton to re-open the Statue of Liberty's Crown to visitors and sight-seers, not just the base of the statue. In an interview on NBC's Today show this morning, the Secretary promised that the public will be allowed to climb the 354 steps to the statue's crown. But Secretary Norton did not repeat that promise in her official remarks at the Statue. Schumer today asked the Secretary to re-confirm her commitment to opening the Statue's crown in light of the conflicting statements.
"I remember as a little kid looking out of the Statue of Liberty's crown to what I then thought were the ends of the earth," Schumer said. "Kids of all ages today deserve the same opportunity to stand on the shoulders of Lady Liberty and view the Land of Liberty."
According to an Associated Press article posted on the Today Show's official website, (msnbc.msn.com/id/4630214/) Secretary Norton said during this morning's broadcast that "an examination of the national monument revealed potential for fire problems and a lack of exits. Screening procedures, much like those at airports, and a reservation system to reduce long lines will be implemented once the monument reopens in late July... after the upgrades are completed, the public will be allowed to climb the 354 steps to the statue’s crown, or observation deck."
But the Department of the Interior's official press release from the Secretary's announcement on Liberty Island says that only the observation deck on the Statue's pedestal will be opened. While that deck is 150 feet (approximately 16 stories) above the water line, it is near the base of the statue and does not offer anything close to the view from the top of the Statue.
Schumer said today that while the Statue of Liberty is obviously an attractive terrorist target because it stands as a beacon of freedom for the world, officials have learned key lessons New York Harbor patrols, protecting landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, and renovating the tunnels under Penn Station (which just like the Statue of Liberty have narrow, winding staircases that would simultaneously have to be used for people to evacuate and for first responders to enter). Schumer said that the Statue's crown could be secured and that signs could be posted to make visitors aware of any added risks they take ascending to the Statue's crown.
"Until today, the Statue of Liberty was the only National Park still closed after the attacks of September 11. At long last, we fixed that because of every individual and company that gave their hard-earned money to re-open the pedestal. But our work won't be done until we've fully restored the site to its pre-9/11 glory, and the Secretary should make that commitment clear."