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Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 14:56 UK

Lady Liberty's crown to re-open

The Statue of Liberty, April 2009
Lady Liberty is seen as a symbol of freedom and democracy

After years of going without a view from the top deck, visitors to New York will soon be able to visit the crown of the Statue of Liberty, officials say.

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the crown would re-open on 4 July, US Independence Day, during an announcement on NBC's Today programme.

The entire statue was put off limits to the public following the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Access to the lower observation deck and the pedestal re-opened in 2004.

Lottery system

Mr Salazar, speaking from the inside of the statue during a live television appearance, said access to the crown would initially be limited.

Only 30 visitors, chosen by lottery, would be allowed in each hour. The number would eventually increase, he said.

The National Park Service said it closed the crown of Lady Liberty - one of the most iconic images of the US - over safety concerns.

It said access to the upper observation deck was limited to a narrow stairwell that did not allow for a quick exit in an emergency.

The number of visitors to the Statue of Liberty is rising again after falling sharply in the aftermath of 9/11.

About 3.2 million people visited in 2007, up from 2.5 million in 2006, but still shy of the 3.6 million in 2000.

Visitors now have to undergo strict security screening before being allowed in.

Lady Liberty, a gift from France in 1886, was one of the first sights seen by millions of immigrants who arrived in New York harbour over the past two centuries, hoping to gain entry into America.



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Statue of Liberty: Your pictures
08 May 09 |  In Pictures
New York's 'Lady Liberty' reopens
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