Statue of Liberty to be closed for security upgrade

The statue is scheduled to close in October 2011, for nine months to a year, to create a secondary stairwell down from the pedestal, Xinhua reported.

Tourists go up one side and down another. One elevator is installed for tourists who can't or don't want to walk up. Firefighters would need to trudge up the same stairwell to fight a blaze inside the 125-year-old New York landmark.

When a smoke alarm tripped inside last month, hundreds of tourists were rushed down the equivalent of 15 flights of stairs.

National Park Service officials have closed the statue in recent years for a 20-million-dollar security upgrade, and kept the crown shut since the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks until last year to improve its fire safety.

More than five million people visit the landmark every year, with 20,000 tourists a day flocking to the site during the summer. 

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