Statue of Liberty's crown may be reopened

The National Park Service is considering reopening Lady Liberty's crown for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to documents a congressman released on July Fourth.

The park service requested bids last month to study what it would take to safely open the Statue of Liberty's iconic headpiece to the public, according to documents released by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.

Liberty Island was closed after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The statue's base, pedestal and lower observation deck reopened in August 2004, after a $20 million effort to enhance fire safety.

But the crown and its interior observation deck, which soar about 265 feet above New York Harbor, remained closed because the Park Service said there was no way to evacuate them safely. The narrow spiral staircase that leads to the crown doesn't comply with fire and building codes.

Visitors are now limited to the statue's 154-foot-tall pedestal.

Weiner, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, helped arrange a congressional hearing in September on reopening the crown.

He said keeping the observation deck shuttered hurts the city's economy: Since the crown closed, the number of visitors to Lady Liberty has dropped sharply.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Wednesday, and the plans would be finalized by January, Weiner said. The House has agreed to provide $1 million to help fund the work; it wasn't clear Friday whether the Senate would do the same.