Will the Statue of Liberty Ever Reopen?

The Statue of Liberty to remain closed indefinitely until NYPD; National Park Service agree on security screening system

The Statue of Liberty as seen from a Hudson River water taxi. Photo: Patrick Briggs

The National Park Service is looking at reducing hours at all of its parks as a result of the federal spending cuts that were initiated this weekend. But the Statue of Liberty, an iconic part of the American landscape since 1886, is already operating at less than full steam. The statue was closed after the effects of superstorm Sandy rocked Lower Manhattan, and it’s looking like it will stay that way indefinitely.

According to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, reopening the park—along with Ellis Island, the point of entry to millions of 19th and 20th century immigrants and current home of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum—will require setting up a screening system that will satisfy both the National Park Service and the NYPD. Crain’s New York Business reports:

Mr. Salazar said Ellis and Liberty Islands were under consideration for the security-screening operation, as well as “other alternatives.” But he emphasized that “we need to get input from law enforcement.”

The National Park Service, which operates both islands, wants to move the screening to Ellis Island, where it has unused buildings that can be transformed into a larger security center.

But the New York Police Department has made its position clear—and did so two years ago when the National Park Service first proposed the idea. As NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told Crain’s in a statement: “The NYPD did not endorse the National Park Service plan to move all passenger inspection operations to Ellis Island. We have recommended that screening be conducted, as has long been the practice, before passengers board the ferries for the trip.”

The statue, a gift of the French government, was not immediately a success amongst American critics, in large part because its final costs, including the pedestal, designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, were the financial responsibility of the U.S., prompting the New York Times, in an 1876 editorial, to sniff, “no true patriot can countenance any such expenditure for bronze females in the present state of our finances, and, hence, unless the Frenchmen change their minds and pay for the statue themselves, we shall have to do without it.”

More from Smithsonian.com:

Re-envisioning the Statue of Liberty
The 1958 Plan to Turn Ellis Island Into a Vacation Resort

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