Image: Visitors pose for photographs in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York
Jeff Zelevansky  /  EPA, file
Visitors pose for photographs in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York, New York, USA, on 4 July 2009.
updated 8/11/2011 6:03:44 AM ET 2011-08-11T10:03:44

Editor's note: AP earlier misstated the name of the construction company performing the work. It is the Joseph A. Natoli Construction Corp., not the Joseph Construction Corp.

The Statue of Liberty will close for a year at the end of October as it undergoes a $27.25 million renovation that will make the interior safer and more accessible, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday.

The renovations, however, are limited to the monument and Liberty Island will remain open and the statue itself will be mostly unobstructed from view, officials said in a statement.

Tegan Firth, a spokeswoman for Statue Cruises, which on an average Saturday during the summer ferries about 18,000 people to Liberty Island, said the renovation won't have a significant impact on visitation.

"The entire experience of visiting these national landmarks of the United States remains absolutely the same," she said.

The National Parks Service, which manages the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said it will close the monument on Oct. 28, after the 125th anniversary of its dedication.

Better fire safety, bathrooms
It will be closed the following day, and workers from Joseph A. Natoli Construction Corp. of Pine Brook, New Jersey, will install improved stairways and upgrade electrical and fire suppression systems, elevators and bathrooms.

The National Parks Service told The Associated Press in August 2010 that it would close the statue's crown to upgrade the stairwells and improve safety at Lady Liberty.

One reason, the service said at the time, was that the newest fire codes mandate escape routes that would allow the statue to be evacuated within two hours, but the current staircases on either side of the pedestal do not meet the standards.

The statue was closed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks for security precautions, but the base reopened in 2004 after a $20 million security upgrade. The observation deck at the top of the crown was reopened on July 4, 2009.

The National Parks Service controls the number of visitors to the crown, saying about 240 people go to that point each day. About 3.5 million people visit the monument every year.

The statue was built in the 1880s, and was a gift from France.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Lady Liberty gets a makeover

  1. Transcript of: Lady Liberty gets a makeover

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The Statue of Liberty turns 125 years old this October, which seems like a good opportunity to get a little work done. Lady Liberty is getting a $27 million interior makeover. So the statue will be closed for a year after the upcoming birthday celebration. New stairways and elevators are planned, and water and mechanical systems will finally be upgraded. Closure won't change most people's tourist experience, though. Only about a third of visitors make reservations to actually go inside.

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