NEW YORK CITY: The Statue of Liberty was back to her shining best on Sunday (Monday in Manila), reopened to tourists for the first time since falling victim to the United States (US) government shutdown two weeks ago.
Basking in glorious autumn weather, American and foreign tourists thronged Battery Park, excitedly taking pictures and streaming on and off boats taking them to the emblem of the American dream .
“It was amazing,” said Erick Lira, 28, a businessman from Brazil on holiday with his girlfriend. “It’s fantastic.”
The couple said they were over the moon to discover that one of the most iconic monuments in the United States was back up and running Sunday, saying they booked their tickets online instantly.
Like many others in the park, they had little interest in the cause of the shutdown—ideological battles between President Barack Obama and House Republicans over the US budget and the country’s debt.
Mildly disappointed that the partial reopening had not extended to Ellis Island, they happily headed off instead to Ground Zero, the memorial to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Liberty Island reopened until October 17 under a deal between the National Park Service and New York State, which donated around $370,000 to keep it operating and partly offset trade losses.
The National Park Service announced other deals with the states of Arizona, Colorado and Utah to reopen tourist sites closed since the US government partial shutdown came into force on October 1.
The shutdown hit the Statue of Liberty particularly hard, as it was also closed for eight months after Hurricane Sandy in October.