The Statue of Liberty in New York will be closed to the public for up to a year beginning next fall for security upgrades -- including a new staircase.
The 22-story structure currently has a single staircase spiraling up to the crown. The Associated Press reports that construction on a second staircase is set to begin in October 2011. "The $26 million dollar project will add fire-proof staircases, elevators and exits," David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, told Reuters. In the event of an emergency -- much like the smoke alarm that went off last month -- hundreds of tourists are evacuated down the single staircase, the same staircase firefighters use to ascend the monument. The additional staircase will run from the ground to the pedestal -- the highest point reached by most tourists, located a little over halfway to the top.
The statue has a total of 354 steps from base to crown, but only 10 visitors at a time are permitted to make the climb up the narrow staircase to the crown -- in part because of evacuation concerns.