The Statue of Liberty will be closed to tourists next year for security upgrades, including a new staircase.
The 22-storey structure currently has just a single staircase spiralling up to the crown. Construction on a second will begin in October 2011.
“The $26 million [£16 million] project will add fire-proof staircases, elevators and exits,” said David Luchsinger, Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
In the event of an emergency – such as the smoke alarm that went off last month – hundreds of tourists are evacuated down the single staircase, the same one that firefighters use to ascend the monument.
The additional staircase will run from the ground to the pedestal, the highest point reached by most tourists, located a little over halfway to the top.
The statue has a total of 354 steps from base to crown, but only 10 visitors at a time are permitted to make the climb up the narrow staircase to the very top – in part because of evacuation concerns.
by Andy Moreton
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