NEW YORK (AFP)
The Statue of Liberty finally reopened to visitors Thursday, on the July 4 national holiday, months after Superstorm Sandy slammed into New York, causing extensive damage to the landmark.
Some tourists rose at dawn to be among the first to visit Lady Liberty, one of America’s most recognizable symbols, on the festive US holiday marked by parades, cookouts and fireworks displays.
Fife and drum players heralded the reopening on Liberty Island at Manhattan’s southern tip, where American flags fluttered and tourists wore patriotic garb to mark Independence Day.
“I hope this is the last reopening,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Sandy smashed into the US East Coast on October 29, just a day after the crown of the Statue of Liberty had been reopened to visitors following a year of renovation work.
Liberty Island was devastated. Three-quarters of the island was flooded, docks and railings were dislodged, power and phone lines damaged, and sidewalks were ripped up by the waves and wind.
Ahead of Thursday’s reopening, crews replaced at least 53,000 bricks. But parts of the island were still not open to the public.
“The infrastructure is an ongoing challenge,” National Park Service spokesman John Warren told AFP.
Statue of Liberty reopens on July 4