Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday the state will keep the Statue of Liberty open after the iconic monument was closed following the federal government shutdown Friday night.
The national monument, along with Ellis Island, which are managed by the federal government, will cost New York about $65,000 a day to keep open. Cuomo said New York will pay the federal employees from both landmarks.
“She has the day off today, she’s resting, she deserves it … but she’s going to go back to work tomorrow,” Cuomo said Sunday about the statue from the shore in Wagner Park. “That is an economic problem for the state of New York … and that is one of the best economic investments we’ve made in a long time.”
According to Cuomo’s office, an average of 10,000 visitors are turned away daily during the shutdown, and more than 900 jobs were impacted, including National Park Service employees and those who work for the ferry tours.
Cuomo said the last time the government shut down in 2013, New York State stepped in as well, but took 12 days to do so.
“We learned our lesson,” he said. “This time we’re stepping in immediately.”
Cuomo said both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be open Monday “as normal,” and will be funded by the state for the remainder of the shutdown. On Saturday he referred to the landmarks’ closing as a “gross injustice.”
He said the Statue of Liberty is “a major income generator for New York State and we don’t want to lose the income.”
On Sunday, however, several tourists were disappointed to learn they couldn’t step foot on the island, many in the city for the first time. Some decided to buy a ticket and take a loop around the monument, while others made their way toward the Staten Island ferry instead.
Signs placed throughout Battery Park by Statue Cruises warned of the shutdown, advertising tickets for a one-hour “harbor tour,” of sites including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge for $24 for adults. A ticket to access the Statue of Liberty’s crown normally costs only $21.50, according to the company’s website.
Neklas Kruse, 25, was visiting the city for five days from Germany, and decided to try the harbor tour, admitting he was “a little bit” disappointed he couldn’t land on the island itself, and questioning how long a government shutdown would last.
“I don’t know how good it will be,” he said about the new tour. “We don’t know if we will come here again. I don’t know how close the boat goes to the statue.”
Camila Guterrez, 18, was visiting with her family from Argentina on Sunday, their first time in New York.
“We planned to go, we have to change our plans now,” she said. “We wanted to have this experience, but we have to look for another one.”
Valentin Soria, 28, was visiting New York from Spain, and was going to make his way to the Staten Island ferry to get a free view of the iconic monument.
“We’re only here two and a half days, it’s one of the things we want to see,” he said, adding he might have wanted to go to the top of the crown, “but now we can’t.”
The Statue of Liberty, Cuomo said, is symbolic of the immigration debate happening in Congress right now.
“We have the Statue of Liberty in our harbor … it’s all about welcoming people,” he said. “The concept of closing the doors to immigrants is repugnant to the concept of America.”