We’re going on two weeks of government shutdown, with tourists hoping to see national parks having to sneak in or go home. Thousands of park workers have been furloughed and local businesses who generate income from tourism are feeling the pinch. Several U.S. states are taking matters into their own hands, effectively paying the federal government so that they can reopen.
The status as of today:
Arizona: It’s costing $651,000 to open the Grand Canyon for a week, though no money is allotted past that time and some local businesses worry it won’t help them in the long run.
Colorado: Over 10,000 visitors went out the Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend after the state reached an agreement to pay over $40,000 per day to keep it open.
New York’s Staten Island Ferry carries a whopping 75,000 people each day. This includes thousands of tourists looking to snap obligatory photos of the Statue of Liberty, much to the grumbly dismay of seasoned commuters. As the Statue of Liberty reopens for the first time since Hurricane Sandy today, it will likely offer commuters some welcomed respite from the droves of snap-happy tourists. Of course, those looking to skip crowds at Ellis Island can always get a great view of the statue (for free!) on the ferry. But be warned, this is what the daily commuters really think:
One of the most iconic symbols of American freedom is set to reopen just in time to celebrate the nation’s birthday. The Statue of Liberty, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy on October 29 of last year, will welcome visitors for the first time since that day with the arrival of a morning ferry at 8:45 a.m.
When Sandy made landfall in New York City last fall, the storm surge hit Liberty Island. While the statue itself weathered the storm quite nicely, its surrounding support structures were not so lucky. Docks leading to the island were severely damaged, as were the electrical and phone systems. Several of the walkways had to be repaired and the entire site was littered with debris. Fortunately, none of the historical areas were affected by the storm, which made it easier to conduct repairs.
In the aftermath of the storm both Liberty Island and Ellis Island closed to visitors. After both sites were assessed for damage the repair crews set a goal of having the Statue of Liberty reopened by the Fourth of July. They were able to achieve that goal, although Ellis Island remains closed.
The National Park Service says pre-sales for the reopening have been brisk, so visitors should expect large crowds and delays.
Welcome back Lady Liberty. We’re glad you could make the celebration.
I had the privilege of escorting photographer Keith Pennington around New York City last week. During his trip, we embarked on a short journey to Staten Island via the free ferry. As it turns out, this ride provides panoramic views of iconic New York City fixtures, like the Statue of Liberty. I could see the park near my house raising its head above the rest of Brooklyn while we were on the boat. The Verrazano Bridge and the beautiful walkway beneath it were in clear view. The buildings in lower Manhattan and on Governors Island were all visible on this bright and sunny day. Pennington managed to capture much of what was to see in this single shot. If you have a photo you would like to contribute to Photo of The Day, upload it to the Gadling Flickr pool or connect with us on Instagram.
Earlier this week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Statue of Liberty will reopen to visitors this summer just in time to celebrate America’s birthday. The iconic statue, and the island it sits on, suffered damage during Hurricane Sandy in October but is now on track to return to service by July 4, 2013.
During the mega-storm that engulfed the East Coast last year, Liberty Island suffered considerable amounts of damage due to the high winds, excessive rain and flooding. Salazar indicated that Sandy managed to not only destroy the docks that grant access to the island, but also knocked out the security screening system and power grid as well. And while damage to the statue itself was minimal, railings and sidewalks crumbled, buildings were submerged under water and boilers were destroyed.
Finding sources of funding to make the repairs has become a bit of a challenge, especially in the wake of sequestration budget cuts. But the Statue is one of the top tourist attractions in all of New York City, attracting 3.7 million visitors in 2011. That means it is a revenue generator that the local economy will be happy to have back in operation for the busy summer months.
The exact date of the reopening hasn’t been determined yet, but Salazar said more information will be coming soon. He did want to stress, however, that Statue will be in tip-top shape in time for annual Independence Day celebrations. Nearby Ellis Island won’t quite be so lucky, however, as there has been no time table set for its reopening at this time.