UPDATE: The closure is no more. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday the state would pay to reopen the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Tired? Poor? Yearning to breathe free? You’ll have to come back later.
The Statue of Liberty, that iconic symbol of America’s most hopeful ideals, was closed Saturday because of the government shutdown.
This shutdown, the first in more than four years, began at midnight Friday after lawmakers were unable to reach a budget deal that would keep the government open. The exact effect varied across the government, with some facilities remaining open (such as veteran’s hospitals) and others shutting their doors (most federal agencies). You can read a full rundown here.
In a big shift from previous shutdowns, even as preparations began for many federal functions to stop, the Trump administration moved to keep hundreds of national parks and monuments open in an effort to avoid upsetting people. During government shutdowns in 1995 and 2013, iconic parks were closed, which became political flash points and spurred public anger.
Still, not everything remained open Saturday.
The Statue of Liberty — “herself an immigrant,” the National Park Service notes, given to the United States by France late in the 19th century — is administered by the NPS. So is nearby Ellis Island, which is considered part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
Visitors to the Statue of Liberty’s website on Saturday were greeted by this announcement: “Effective immediately and until further notice, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island are closed due to a lapse in appropriations.”
Some other places would remain open temporarily before closing if the shutdown lingers. The Smithsonian Institution said its museums and the National Zoo would stay open during the weekend and begin closing Monday if the shutdown remains in place.
While the Interior Department has sought to keep public lands as accessible as possible, there have been mixed results. At Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, for example, tourists can enter the visitor’s center but cannot access the Liberty Bell, which is in a locked building.
The National Parks Conservation Association estimates that roughly 34 percent of park units would close under the new plan, either because they were made up of buildings or needed ferries or other specialized forms of transport to access them. In a post on Saturday, the association warned that the shutdown’s impact would vary, depending on the particular park.
“Approximately a third of our 417 national park sites are now completely closed, including places like Ford’s Theatre, the Statue of Liberty, presidential homes, and other historic and cultural sites primarily made up of buildings that can be locked,” the NPCA wrote in the post. “Other park sites will remain semi-open, and what is accessible to the public will differ from park to park.”
(Another update: In a news release, Ford’s Theatre noted that while the historic site would be closed for visits during the day, performances would continue as scheduled.)
NPCA estimates that more than 21,000 Park Service employees are being furloughed during the park closures, with thousands more contract employees and small business owners also affected. That leaves a 3,298 “essential staff” to manage 80 million acres of national park lands, from Acadia to American Samoa to Zion, according to the NPCA.
Saturday morning, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tweeted out several photos of himself visiting with workers and tourists on the Mall, in which he said he was “Ensuring our @NatlParkService parks are as accessible as possible.” One photo showed him posing with a couple of department employees “heading out for final trash pickup” in advance of a planned women’s march on the Mall Saturday.
In an email, spokeswoman Heather Swift said that Interior workers “are able to come in for four hours. After that, we have reached an agreement that the City of D.C. will manage trash pickup.”
This post has been updated.