The Statue of Liberty reopened on Thursday, just in time for Independence Day celebrations. The iconic welcome symbol for millions of immigrants was closed in October following Superstorm Sandy.
The landmark’s reopening was a bright spot for some, who were able to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Liberty Island. The region was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, a combination of a Nor’easter and Hurricane that hit with deadly consequences.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell spoke during the ceremony, saying:
“It is hard to imagine a more appropriate or powerful way to commemorate our nation’s founding than to reopen the Statue of Liberty, which is a symbol throughout the world of the freedom America cherishes.”
And on Thursday, crowds lined up to board ferries to the island to visit one of the world’s most recognized landmarks. The Statue of Liberty is a “huge economic engine,” according to the Interior Department.
In 2011, 3.7 million visitors gave $174 million to the New York area economy, supporting over 2,200 jobs. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg added of the Statue of Liberty’s reopening:
“We’ve not only repaired damage from Sandy, but we’ve also taken steps to protect Liberty Island from major storms in the future, just as we’re doing in the rest of our city.”
Along with the Statue of Liberty’s reopening, there were other signs of activity returning to areas hit hard by Sandy. Thousands packed into Brooklyn’s Coney Island to cheer a group of professionals on as they took part in a hot dog eating contest.
The reopening of Lady Liberty was also important for residents whose homes were destroyed in the massive storm. New Yorker Heather Leykam traveled to Liberty Island with her family on Thursday. She stated:
“This, to us, Liberty Island, is really about a rebirth. It is a sense of renewal for the city and the country. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Boston also prepared on Thursday to host its first large gathering since April’s Boston Marathon bombings. Security was expected to be very tight.
Visitors to the Statue of Liberty woke up before dawn in an attempt to beat the crowds and be among the first to see the iconic statue. The island was decked out in star-spangled bunting. Despite repairs and the reopening, parts of the island remained blocked off and the main ferry dock was still boarded up. Some repairs are still ongoing, though most of the work has been completed.
[Image via Derek Jensen]