After nearly a year of repairs in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Statue of Liberty is again open to visitors from near and far.
The Statue of Liberty's reopening was a big bright spot for an Independence Day dampened by soaking rains in much of the country and limited by the across-the-board federal budget cuts known as the sequester, which left numerous military bases without annual fireworks displays.
"It is hard to imagine a more appropriate or powerful way to commemorate our nation's founding than to reopen the Statue of Liberty, which is a symbol throughout the world of the freedom America cherishes," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Liberty Island, which was hard hit by Superstorm Sandy in October just days after the site was closed for a year of renovations.
Thursday, crowds lined up to board ferries for one of the world's most iconic attractions.
"Today, Lady Liberty also stands as a sign of the resilience of the region -- an area so badly battered by Hurricane Sandy nine months ago, but that is on the rebound thanks to the sacrifices and dedication of so many people," Jewell said.
The Interior Department said that the site is a "huge economic engine." In 2011, 3.7 million visitors contributed $174 million to the NYC area economy, and supported over 2,200 jobs.