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Tourists Were Sad The Government Shutdown Closed The Statue Of Liberty

Hundreds of tourists turned up in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, completely unaware that Liberty Island is closed until further notice.

Posted on January 20, 2018, at 5:52 p.m. ET

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic symbols of the United States — and one of New York City's most popular tourist destinations.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Over 4.5 million tourists visited Liberty Island in 2016.

But as a national monument run by the federal government, Liberty Island, which includes both the Statue of Liberty and neighboring Ellis Island, was closed Saturday due to the government shutdown.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The monument is typically opened every day except Christmas.

On Saturday morning, the official Statue of Liberty page on the National Parks Service site was updated with a notice that the monument and Ellis Island were "closed due to a lapse in appropriations."

Lapse in appropriations is code for the government shutdown.

Hundreds of tourists, apparently unaware of the closures, turned up Saturday at Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. Many only realized they wouldn't be able to see the famous New York landmark when they saw signs posted by Statue Cruises, the private business that runs the ferries to Liberty Island.

Amber Jamieson for BuzzFeed News

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has volunteered state funds to keep the national monument open, and suggested Saturday that the federal government's closure of the Statue of Liberty was symbolically linked to Republican efforts to tighten US immigration policy.

"How do you close down the Statue of Liberty? It's a symbol of New York, it's a symbol of America," Cuomo said. "The federal government has tried to close it down symbolically, we want to keep it open liberally."

Cuomo did not provide specifics on how the state might take over funding for Liberty Island, or how much it would cost. And as of Sunday morning, the Statue of Liberty remained closed, according to its website.

Tourists from the US and overseas told BuzzFeed News they were incredibly disappointed. "We literally came here because of the Statue of Liberty," said Fernanda Arteaga, 26, who was visiting from Monterrey, Mexico. "It is an emblem of New York."

Amber Jamieson for BuzzFeed News

Arteaga arrived in the city Thursday with her partner Jorge Contreras, 26. "We are sad," she said, saying that she was hopeful the statue would reopen before they leave New York at the end of the month.

The Fetui family from Honolulu, on their first-ever New York trip, had been super excited to see a monument they had all learned about in school. "I'd seen it in history books growing up in Hawaii," said Caleb Fetui, 39. "When you think of New York, the Statue of Liberty comes to mind."

Amber Jamieson for BuzzFeed News

"It's such an icon," added his wife, Trisha Fetui, 39, noting that living in Hawaii means that the family doesn't often get to see national monuments in the rest of the US.

“It’s just sad,” said the Fetuis' 10-year-old daughter Isabella. The statue, she said, “represents freedom for all.”

Her brother Josiah, 12, agreed. "The Statue of Liberty means we have so much freedom, we have the right to do whatever we want in this country," he said.

Plaban Prajnanidhi, 32, of Philadelphia, was in New York for the weekend with his wife Sanhita, 29, who was visiting the city for the first time. The pair had come straight from the train station to see the Statue of Liberty.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images

"A visit to New York without the Statue of Liberty is not complete," Prajnanidhi told BuzzFeed News.

Many tourists had no idea what the government shutdown even meant, or how long it had been going for. The Berti family, from São Paolu, Brazil, assumed the statue must have been closed for weeks. When BuzzFeed News informed them the shutdown had just happened overnight, Cesar Berti and his wife Valeria threw up their hands in frustration.

This family from São Paolu, Brazil are on their first trip to NYC, have been here 12 days and had no idea the Statu…

Even locals had been unaware of the closure. Inza Diaby, 50, who lives in New York, had brought his brother Abdul, 47, who was on vacation from the Ivory Coast, down to the Statue of Liberty for a tour.

Abdul Diaby, left, is visiting his brother Inza from the Ivory Coast on his first NYC trip. They came to see the St…

Andrew Riano, a 25-year-old criminal justice student at Asa College, has spent seven years dressing up as the Statue of Liberty for tips and said Saturday that business hadn’t slowed yet despite the shutdown. But tourists are “surprised” and “disappointed” by the closure, he said.

Amber Jamieson for BuzzFeed News

As was Riano — he didn’t know Liberty Island would be closed until he'd turned up at the ferry terminal Saturday morning.

“As the daughter of immigrants, I wanted to show my daughter how people got here back in the day,” said Lisette Astudillo, 41, who lives in Florida.

Last time Lisette Astudillo (red scarf) was visiting NYC from West Palm Beach, Florida, it was during the LAST govt…

Astudillo also didn't think disagreements in Washington shouldn't close the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. "It's government property but it's nothing to do with politicians," she said.

Her friend Olga Kadovska-Aykut, who immigrated to the US from Ukraine and now lives in Florida, also wanted to show her son Ellis Island and said she thought it was ironic that they would not be able to visit because of political disagreements over immigration policies. “To see this fighting infuriates me,” Kadovska-Aykut said.

Amber Jamieson for BuzzFeed News

Her 9-year-old son Amir Aykut was particularly upset at being unable to visit Liberty Island. "I'm very sad. I wanted to see the inside of the Statue of Liberty and see what it is like," he told BuzzFeed News. "I think it looks very cool."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.