Interestingly, most of these criticisms only apply on a crowded day. Most such attractions are best avoided at times when there are hoards of tourists about anyway. I suspect if you were in New York during a cooler weekday off-season, the hike to the top of the crown could be a relatively safe adventure.
Before Sept. 11, on a typical day, more than 1,000 people at once would wait in one long, single-file line along the 354 steps to the crown. After 9/11, the reality that there were no safe exits above the first floor of what is essentially a 20-story building was sobering. The National Park Service was right to close the statue while it took time to assess evacuation plans.
So almost five years later, why should the crown stay closed? While the original staircase used by maintenance workers was removed during the 1986 restoration of the statue, the double-helix staircase that replaced it, rising more than 110 feet from the statue's toes to her crown, is narrow, cramped and unsafe. With just over five feet of head clearance and less than 20 inches of width, the stairs barely fit within the statue's iron structure. When the crown was open, many people complained of claustrophobia, vertigo and heat exhaustion during their ascent; a tiny elevator that was used often to rescue stranded tourists can accommodate only one person, standing, at a time.
But check the visiting hours first.