Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Reopen With NYS Funds

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Statue of Liberty Shutdown AvertedFunds from New York State will reopened the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island today, in the wake of the U.S. government shutdown that closed the two iconic federally operated historic sites on Friday.

The two sites have played important parts in America’s immigration history and have a significant impact on the New York State economy. According to an annual report by the National Park Service, 4.5 million people visited Liberty Island in 2016, generating $263.2 million in visitor spending per year and supporting 3,400 jobs, with an economic output of $364 million.

Under an agreement with Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the State will pay to reopen the park as the federal shutdown continues. The park will be fully open and functioning as usual. The State will pay the federal government $65,000 for each day that the park is open. With the exception of Castle Clinton, all other New York Harbor sites remain closed.

As a result of the shutdown which has denied access to an average of 10,000 visitors to the park daily, more than 900 direct jobs have been impacted at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, including with the National Park Service and Evelyn Hill, Inc. Statue Cruises which provides ferry rides to the island has seen its daily ridership drop 50-70 percent. The tour boat company employs about 200 people.

Federal historic sites across the nation are mostly closed due to the shutdown, including the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and numerous presidential homes. National Park Service historic sites in New York State expected to be affected by the closure include Fort Stanwix, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Martin Van Buren House, Sagamore Hill (the former home of Theodore Roosevelt), the Saratoga Battlefield (site of the turning point of the American Revolution), the home of Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, and the Women’s Right National Historic Park in Seneca Falls.

Nine of the 12 National Park System Advisory Board members resigned on Monday last week, saying their communications with Secretary Zinke have been repeatedly ignored. They said they had not held a single meeting last year.

“New York State will not allow the vitriol of Washington to close the Statue of Liberty,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement to the press announcing the move.  During the 2013 Federal government shutdown, Governor Cuomo reached a similar agreement to reopen the Statue of Liberty using State tourism funding.

Illustration: A 1917 War Bond Poster (cropped).

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John Warren

About John Warren

John Warren is the founder and editor of The New York History Blog and the online news magazine Adirondack Almanack. He's been a media professional for 30 years with a focus on history, journalism and documentary production. He has a Master of Arts degree in Public History and is a media specialist at the New York State Writers Institute. John lives in the Adirondack Park and his weekly Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report airs across Northern New York on the North Country Public Radio network.

2 thoughts on “Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Reopen With NYS Funds

  1. William Maurer

    Think the only reason NY gave money to reopen the Statue and Ellis is probably not to honor immigrants or to salute the freedoms in America represented by the lady in the harbor, but I would suppose that the govt of NY State saw the importance of tourists in Manhattan and realized the economic reasons to kick in $65,000 a day for a day or two. As Mr. Warren writes: According to an annual report by the National Park Service, 4.5 million people visited Liberty Island in 2016, generating $263.2 million in visitor spending per year and supporting 3,400 jobs, with an economic output of $364 million.

    And for the New Yorkers and others locally, go check the islands out. So much better than driving by or flying over and saying to your family, “We have to go visit that some day.”

  2. Cassie

    @William – you are one hundred percent correct. The economic concerns were clearly the only concerns, but I’m not complaining. It’s a our history and we need access.


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