Statue of Liberty to re-open with renovations

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: Fireworks explode over the Statue of Liberty in celebration of the anniversary of its dedication on October 28, 2011 in New York City. The celebrations for the worldwide symbol of freedom and of friendship between France and the United States included the naturalization of 125 new citizens from 46 nations and the installation of Internet webcams on the statue. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The USS New York passes the Statue of Liberty to kick off Fleet Week in New York May 25, 2011.
AP Photo

NEW YORK The Statue of Liberty is set to reopen to the public on Sunday, the U.S. landmark's 126th anniversary.

The statue has been closed since last October for renovation to its interior, although the public has been allowed to visit its Liberty Island grounds in New York Harbor.

The $30 million renovation that began last year included replacing the stairs to the crown and making them less steep. There are now 393 steps, instead of 354.

For the first time, visitors using wheelchairs will be able to visit one of the observation decks at the top of the pedestal. National Parks Service spokeswoman Mindi Rambo said that is as high as it's possible to provide wheelchair access while preserving the historic structure.

The statue, a gift from France, was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886. It was conceived to symbolize the friendship between the two countries and their shared love of liberty.

About 3.5 million people visit the statue every year. Parks Service official said the renovations will allow an additional 26,000 people to visit inside the monument annually.

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