July 3, 2009 -- For the first time since it was closed following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the observation deck in the crown of New York City's famed Statue of Liberty will reopen to the public on July 4.
The statue itself was reopened in 2004, but visitors were only allowed into the pedestal at the base of the statue. But the pedestal is not the real draw, according to Bill Maurer of the National Parks Service.
"Everyone has been asking, 'When can we go up to the crown?'" Maurer told "Good Morning America." "Certainly, it is a pleasure to say that you can go up Saturday, if you have a reservation."
The statue sees as many as 15,000 visitors every day, Maurer said. On Saturday, 30 visitors will be chosen every hour by lottery to be allowed to climb the 168 step spiral staircase to the crown, The Associated Press reported.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the reopening at a press conference on nearby Ellis Island in May.
"On July 4, we are giving America a special gift," Salazar said.
Salazar based his decision to reopen the crown on an analysis of the statue completed by the National Park Service that addressed some of the statue's dangers.
"We cannot eliminate all the risk of climbing to the crown, but we are taking steps to make it safer," Salazar said.
Handrails on the long spiral staircase and park rangers stationed throughout the monument are among the new safety measures.
The statue will be open for two years and then closed again for additional safety work, the AP reported.
A Beacon Reopens
"The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty, freedom and equality, not only in America but around the world and especially for New York City," Maurer said.
France gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States as a gift of friendship. It was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886, and became a national monument in 1924.
CLICK HERE to make a reservation to climb up to the statue's crown.
And visit the statue's National Park Service Web site for more information and hours of operation.