The Statue of Liberty and the island it stands on will finally reopen to the public on July 4, months after Hurricane Sandy forced it to close.
New York was hit hard by Sandy just one day after the statue’s 126th birthday last November. Lady Liberty herself made it through the storm unscathed, but 75% of the 12-acre island the statue rests on was underwater. The storm surge flooded buildings and broke railings, docks, paving stones, electrical systems, sewage pumps and boilers. In total, Sandy wreaked about $59 million worth of destruction on Liberty Island and neighboring Ellis Island combined.
Hundreds of National Park Service workers were brought in from across the country to help restore the island to its former glory.
“People will have, more or less, the same access to Liberty Island that they had before,” said John Warren, a spokesman for the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The statue’s crown had been closed for a year during a $30 million upgrade and had finally reopened one day before Sandy hit and was quickly forced to close again.
Lady Liberty will reopen with a ceremony that will feature remarks from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Ellis Island and its museum celebrating the millions of immigrants who landed there suffered extensive damage and is still closed and officials have no timetable for when it might reopen. The island still lacks electricity, sewage systems and telephone lines, but its historical documents and artifacts survived the storm.
The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the U.S. from France in 1886 symbolizing the friendship between the two nations. Its strong iron framework is credited with helping the statue persevere through Sandy’s strong winds.