Statue Of Liberty National Monument

Statue Of Liberty National Monument

Statue of Liberty to get a second staircase in 2011

August 16, 2010, 1:09 pm

Lady Liberty will celebrate her 125th birthday next year by taking some time off.

Officials at the National Park Service announced Monday that the Statue of Liberty will be closed to the public for up to a year beginning next fall for security upgrades -- including a new staircase. The 22-story structure currently has a single staircase spiraling up to the crown. The Associated Press reports that construction on a second staircase is set to begin in October 2011.

"The $26 million dollar project will add fire-proof staircases, elevators and exits," David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, told Reuters.

In the event of an emergency -- much like the smoke alarm that went off last month -- hundreds of tourists are evacuated down the single staircase, the same staircase 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 crown -- in part because of evacuation concerns.