New York: Back in business! After a year-long and USD 30 million interior makeover, the iconic Statue of Liberty has re-opened for the public on its 126th birthday.
The mostly federally funded renovation to the Lady Liberty includes fire-safety and ventilation improvements, better bathrooms, a third elevator and a remodelled staircase with 39 extra steps to make it easier to climb from pedestal to crown.
For the first time ever, there is wheelchair access to the top of the pedestal, the `New York Post` reported.
"We are delighted to once again open Lady Liberty`s doors to the public. Providing better access, safer conditions and accommodating more visitors make this even more special," WNYC.Org quoted David Luchsinger, superintendent of Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.
With the structural improvements, 26,000 more visitors will be able to visit the crown every year. Previously, only 240 people per day could visit, now 315 can visit.
About 600 workers and 60 tonnes of concrete and materials were ferried to the island for the renovation.
The 354-step pedestal staircase was redone to include 393 smaller steps. Two new elevators replaced the old ones, and a third emergency elevator was installed, the report said.
People in wheelchairs can now reach the top of the pedestal`s observation deck at 110 feet, 95 feet higher than before, when wheelchairs couldn`t go past ground level.
On summer days, when the interior of the statue is 20 degrees hotter than outside, a new HVAC system will keep the statue cooler.
New fire alarms, sprinkler systems, strobes and a public address system are up to code.
However, Liberty`s torch, will remain closed, as it has been since 1916.