The Statue of Liberty's crown on Ellis Island, which has been closed to the public since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, will reopen on July 4, U.S. Independence Day, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference held on Ellis Island, Salazar said the statue was a symbol of American values and reopening it on Independence Day would be a great birthday present for the American people.
We will protect the people, we will protect the place, Salazar vowed, announcing a $25 million grant from federal stimulus funds for the Statue of Liberty and the historic immigration center on the adjacent Ellis Island.
The reopening of one of the world's most popular monuments will increase the flow of tourists to Ellis Island as people come to see the historical monument.
Salazar said a maximum of 10 people would be able to occupy the crown at any time, allowing for 30 visitors an hour, or 50,000 a year in the initial phase.
A lottery will be used to select those who will go to the crown.
As we move forward and make additional improvements, we will move up to about 100,000 people a year, Salazar said.