Workers on Liberty Island, June 26, install sod around the national monument which is set to re-open on the 4th of July, in New York.
(Photo: Kevin Daley, AP)
(USA Today) -- Lady Liberty is receiving guests again.
New York City's iconic Statue of Liberty, which closed after the 12-acre island she sits on was walloped by Superstorm Sandy, re-opened on the Fourth of July.
The first ferries to Liberty Island arrived around 8:45 a.m. Patrons - who can buy tickets online, through a call center or in-person at the ferry station, can roam the grounds and check out the massive monument up close. Those who secure reserved pedestal and crown tickets will be able to enter the 305-foot-tall structure.
Sandy socked the New York City area on Oct. 29, one day after the 126th anniversary of the statue's dedication. The surge from the storm covered about 75% of Liberty Island and all of Ellis Island. The statue, which had been closed for about a year for renovations, had just reopened on Oct. 28.
Historical areas weren't damaged, but docks and pathways were. Liberty Island's electrical and phone systems were hit hard.
"The water never touched the pedestal or the Statue of Liberty," says John Warren, spokesman for the Statue of Liberty National Monument. "A lot of the damage is stuff you don't see."
A strong internal iron framework -- created by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame -- enabled the structure to withstand the storm's intense winds, the National Park Service says.
The national landmark, originally called Liberty Enlightening the World, was a gift of friendship from France. It was designed by sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi to mark the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. The tablet in the Statue's left hand has the date of July 4, 1776, written in Roman numerals.
After Liberty Island was flooded, a priority was put on welcoming visitors again by Independence Day 2013.
"Opening by July 4 was something that we were striving for very hard," Warren says.
Ellis Island remains closed for now. The total cost to repair both areas could be as much as $59 million, then-secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar estimated in late 2012.
The Lady in the Harbor may be old and sturdy, but she is hip enough to use social media.
Official Statue of Liberty Twitter and Facebook sites have kept fans informed of the progress made to reopen. The sites also offer up fun facts, such as when two pennies are pinched together, they "represent the thickness of the Statue's copper skin."
Its Facebook page has 169,558 "likes" and its Twitter profile has 8,782 followers.
A Facebook update on June 18 said, "Based on the number of ferry ticket presales, we are expecting a VERY busy July 4th weekend."
Rafael Abreu, director of sales and marketing for Statue Cruises, which sells the Statue of Liberty tickets, says access to the crown is completely sold out for July 4. Presales for pedestal access are also sold out, but there will be in-person sales for access to that area on Independence Day.