Thousands Turned Back at Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island With AM-Government Shutdown, Bjt
Oct. 06, 1990
NEW YORK (AP) _ No huddled masses assembled Saturday at the Statue of Liberty, which was shut down by a tired and poor federal government.
Thousands of sightseers from around the United States and the world felt one of the first effects of the federal budget dispute. They trekked to lower Manhattan to catch ferries to Liberty and Ellis islands only to find the boats weren't running.
''It's very annoying,'' said Magdalene Kopp of Heidelberg, Germany. ''It's something I came to the United States to see.''
Instead of the outstretched arm of Lady Liberty or Ellis Island's cavernous waiting room, tourists were greeted by a disheartening monotone announcement over loudspeakers:
''Attention visitors: The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are closed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.''
Helen Bealka, 62, traveled from St. Paul, Minn., to see Ellis Island, where her father first set foot in America.
''This is horrible. I don't know if I'll live long enough to come back,'' she said.
The Ellis Island closing came less than a month after the renovated area was reopened to the public.
The closures resulted from Bush's refusal to sign a stopgap spending plan as his administration and Congress haggled over a new budget.
Getting turned away from the nation's symbol of freedom was enough to convince most visitors they were the victims of undue suffering at politicians' hands.
''It's a disgrace when reasonable people can't agree on something. Why can't these clowns get together on this?'' said Henry Bowman, 44, of Cookeville, Tenn. ''This was our one chance to go.''
Said Abigail Hoffman, 33, of New York City: ''I wish they'd make some hard choices. That's why they were voted in.''
National Park Service employee Eli Mecardo usually sells Liberty Island ferry tickets, but on Saturday he, too, was turned back.
''They just told us to go home,'' he said. ''They said the government ran out of money and we're not getting paid.''
Although most people grumbled and cursed Washington, a few thought the inconvenience was for the common good.
''I'm disappointed, but it's one of the things that happen in government,'' said Ruth Flaton, 72, of Elmont. ''Maybe it's one way to balance the budget. I think Bush did the right thing.''