| GEO World|
| Statue of Liberty's crown reopens to the public|
| Updated at: 2333 PST, Sunday, July 05, 2009|
NEW YORK: The Statue of Liberty's crown, which has been closed since the September 11, 2001 attacks here, reopened to the public on Saturday as the United States celebrated Independence Day.
Each hour, 30 people will be able to climb up a spiral staircase that leads to the very top of the iconic statue, which has been closed to the public amid security concerns.
The first group of visitors to enter the crown were chosen by a special lottery.
The celebration on Liberty Island, south of Manhattan, took place on a surprise day of sunshine after more than a month of daily downpours, and was attended by a number of government officials, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Governor David Paterson.
"This statue represents hope," Paterson said.
"This statue withstood wars, it withstood the attacks of September 11. Let us welcome the values for a better future for which it stands," he said.
"This is the greatest gift of all times," Bloomberg said.
"It is emblematic of a special relationship between us and France. It is an enduring symbol of freedom," he added.
Bloomberg also thanked French ambassador to the United States Pierre Vimont, who assisted in the reopening ceremony.
"Liberty Enlightening the World," more commonly known as the Statue of Liberty, was produced in Paris by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and given to the United States by France in 1886.
The statue's internal structure was the work of engineer Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Access to the statue's crown is via a spiral staircase that gets narrower as it climbs 168 steps.