Statue of Liberty reopens on NY funds
New York (CNN) — The Statue of Liberty reopened Sunday morning thanks to state funding after it had been closed for 12 days as a result of the partial government shutdown.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature resorted to “unusual state action” and agreed to pay the operational costs of the Statue of Liberty until the federal government reopens, citing economic interests in a news conference Sunday.
New York state will pay $61,600 a day over the next several days from its tourism budget.
“Just on the economics of the matter, it makes obvious sense for us to pay for the costs of operation, which pales in comparison to the amount of money we are now losing,” Cuomo said.
According to a statement from Cuomo, a 2012 annual report from the National Park Service counted 3.7 million visitors to Liberty Island in 2011, generating nearly $200 million in economic activity and supporting more than 2,000 jobs.
The main entrance to Grand Canyon National Park remains closed to visitors in Grand Canyon, Arizona, on Thursday, October 10. Under pressure from several governors, the Obama administration said Thursday it will allow some shuttered national parks to reopen, as long as states use their own money to pay for park operations. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and state legislative leaders have said they would make state funding available. The federal government entered a shutdown October 1, furloughing hundreds of thousands of workers. Many government services and agencies remain completely or partially closed.
Empty tables overlooking Seal Rocks are seen inside the closed Cliff House on Wednesday, October 9, in San Francisco. The 150-year-old oceanside icon was ordered closed by the National Park Service for the duration of the partial government shutdown, leaving most of the restaurant’s 170 employees without work.
Boaters gather to protest the closure of Everglades National Park waters on October 9 near Islamorada, Florida. About a third of the 2,380-square-mile park encompasses Florida Bay and has been closed to Florida Keys guides and recreational fishermen since October 1.
A camping party at the Dolly Copp campground in Gorham, New Hampshire, on October 9 is told that the park will close on Thursday, October 10, at noon. The privately run campground in New Hampshire’s White Mountains National Forest was forced to close ahead of the lucrative Columbus Day weekend because of the federal government shutdown.
Rick Hohensee holds a “Fire Congress” sign near the House steps on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, October 8.
Officers stand at the base of stairs leading to the Capitol Rotunda on Monday, October 7.
A bull elk appears to stick out its tongue at the closed north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana on October 7 in a photo submitted by iReporter Brad Orsted. Orsted joked the animal was giving its opinion on the government shutdown.
Tourists take photos at a barricade blocking access to the World War II Memorial in Washington on Sunday, October 6.
River runners make camp in a dirt parking lot in Marble Canyon, Arizona, after being unable to access the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry on Saturday, October 5.
A closure sign is posted on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Thursday, October 3.
Metal gates closed with a chain block the entrance to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, in Kennesaw, Georgia on Thursday, October 3. A sign posted on the gates announces the park’s closure, citing the government shutdown.
Tourists take photos of the Statue of Liberty while riding a tour boat in New York Harbor on October 3. The statue is adminstered by the National Park Service and is closed as a result of the government shutdown.
A single security guard patrols the closed Lincoln Memorial in Washington on October 3.
A U.S. Capitol police officer walks past a statue of Gerald Ford in the rotunda on Tuesday, October 1. The Capitol is closed to tours because of the government shutdown.
Barricades around the World War II Memorial in Washington prevent people from entering the monument on October 1. The memorial was temporary opened to veteran groups who arrived on Honor Flights on a day trip to visit the nation’s capital.
World War II veteran Russell Tucker of Meridian, Mississippi, stands outside the barricade as he visits the World War II Memorial in Washington on October 1.
World War II Veteran George Bloss, from Gulfport, Mississippi, looks out over the National World War II Memorial in Washington, on October 1. Veterans who had traveled from across the country were allowed to visit the National World War II Memorial after it had been officially closed because of the partial government shutdown.
A park ranger secures a road at the entrance to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial on October 1 in Keystone, South Dakota.
A sign is posted in the window of an IRS office in Brooklyn notifying that the office is closed due to the government shutdown on October 1.
A visitor takes a picture of a sign announcing the closure of the Fort Point National Historic Site due to the partial government shutdown on October 1 in San Francisco, California.
A hand-written sign informs visitors to Faneuil Hall, the nation’s oldest public meeting hall, that restrooms are closed as a result of the partial government shutdown in Boston, on October 1.
Visitors to Independence National Historical Park are reflected in the window of the closed building housing the Liberty Bell, on October 1 in Philadelphia.
Mark Weekley, superintendent at the National Park Service’s Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail, puts up a sign proclaiming the facility closed due to the federal government shutdown, in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 1.
Hot Springs National Park employee Stacy Jackson carries a barricade while closing Arlington Lawn in Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas on October 1.
The Washington Monument is seen behind a chain fence in Washington, on October 1.
A National Park Service ranger finishes putting up a sign indicating all facilities at the Martin Luther King Historic Site are closed to the public in Atlanta, on October 1.
A Capitol police officer walks through the empty Capitol Rotunda, closed to tours during the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, on October 1.
An employee at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Springfield, Massachusetts, puts up a sign on October 1, to notify visitors that the site is closed because of a government shutdown.
A U.S. Park Service police officer stands at the closed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington on October 1.
A man looks into the closed Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington on October 1.
A National Parks Service ranger posts a sign on the doors of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on October 1 notifying visitors that the church is closed.
A U.S. park ranger places a closed sign on a barricade in front of the World War II Memorial in Washington on October 1.
Park police and Park Service employees close down the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall on October 1.
A sign informs visitors that the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial, west of Paris, is closed because of the shutdown on October 1.
A man walks past a sign noting the closure at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Valley View, Ohio, on October 1.
Members of the U.S. National Park Service close the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington on October 1.
A U.S. park ranger posts a closed sign at the Lincoln Memorial on October 1.
A sign alerting visitors that the National Gallery of Art is closed stands outside the building on October 1.
People look at a sign announcing that the Statue of Liberty is closed in New York on October 1.
Fencing around the World War II Memorial prevents people from entering the monument on the National Mall in Washington on October 1.
Signs taped on museum doors alert visitors that the National Museum of American History in Washington is closed on October 1.
A U.S. park service police officer stands guard at the entrance of the closed Lincoln Memorial on October 1.
Veterans protest outside the White House
Bill Rudin, chairman of the Battery Conservancy, which operates the 25-acre park and ticketing center for ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, said that 400 jobs have been lost at the Statue of Liberty and surrounding parks since the government shutdown began on October 1.
Rudin estimated that the 10,000 daily visitors each spend $35, adding up to losses in the thousands of dollars during the closure.
Bradford A. Hill, president of Evelyn Hill Inc., a family company that runs the gift shops and restaurants at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, said that the firm’s sales dropped nearly 70% this year between damage from Superstorm Sandy and the government shutdown.
Evelyn Hill Inc. had to lay off 110 employees, until the state stepped in to help.
“It is heartening to know that when Washington, D.C., fails to deliver to Americans, and there is no end to the gridlock in sight, we have a state that we can rely on to step up to the plate and take over critical responsibilities,” Hill said. “Today, with the leadership of Governor Cuomo, we opened our doors again today and welcomed back our employees.”
Cuomo said the state stepped in not just for economic reasons, but also for symbolic reasons.
“The Statue of Liberty is more than just a tourism destination, more than just a creator of economy, a creator of jobs; it is probably the most profound symbol for freedom and democracy, certainly in this country, but possibly around the world,” he said.
Tourists were happy to hear the announcement of the reopening and began lining up to visit the New York City landmark.
“We would have been disappointed. We probably would have taken the Staten Island ferry or a Circle Line Cruise to at least go near the island to get a picture, but I’ve done that before, and it’s just so much better to be on the island. It’s a really neat experience,” said Stacy Kratt, who was visiting New York City.
Like New York, Arizona and South Dakota struck similar deals to reopen the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore, respectively.
All national monuments and parks were closed when Congress failed to approve spending for the fiscal year.
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees who maintain and secure the facilities were furloughed. The nation’s 401 National Park Service sites collectively average about 715,000 visitors per day.
CNN’s Bryan Koenig and Leslie Bentz contributed to this report.