Except for Statue of Liberty, city's top tourist attractions back in business

Thursday, October 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Tours resumed Thursday at the United Nations, the latest city attraction to reopen to visitors. But the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island remain closed and officials won't say when the two symbols of freedom will open their doors.

``It might be a week from now, or a year from now,'' National Park Service spokesman Brian Feeney said. He said ``we had to take a completely different look'' at security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

City tourism officials estimates New York has lost at least $237 million in hotel, restaurant and Broadway show revenue from out-of-towners since the attacks. The statue and immigration museum in New York's harbor attracted 5.5 million visitors alone last year.

Most attractions near the catastrophe in lower Manhattan have reopened, including the South Street Seaport. The observation deck of the Empire State Building, which was closed as a precaution, and the Circle Line sightseeing boats, which ran into a ban on nonessential shipping, are back with reduced schedules.

With her mother and a friend, Shula Jamieson of Newcastle, England, has hit the Circle Line tour, the Empire State Building, ``Kiss Me Kate'' on Broadway, the Guggenheim Museum, Macy's and Bloomingdale's. She was among the first to take Thursday's UN tour.

``Mayor Giuliani made a plea to tourists, 'Please come to New York,''' Jamieson said. ``So we thought, 'Everyone's been fine about it, so we'll go.'''

Valentin Farkas of Vancouver, British Columbia, has been taking his family to shows and the opera every night during a 10-day vacation.

``We found people's spirits much higher than we thought we were going to find,'' Farkas said. ``The media leaves the impression that everybody's depressed and they've stopped living. Actually, it's not so.''

Many in the city took time for memorial services Thursday noting the passing of a month since the trade center was leveled by terrorists. The number of missing and dead stands at 5,160.

``We will always remember them,'' Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said during a service near the rubble that included a moment of silence at 8:48 a.m., when the first hijacked jetliner struck. ``And to them we will dedicate the rebuilding of New York, and making certain that we do not allow the terrorists in any way to affect our spirit.''

The mayor then met with a Saudi prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, who donated $10 million to victims' families but also criticized U.S. foreign policy. In light of the criticism, a mayoral spokeswoman said, the city has not accepted the check.

A TKTS discount theater ticket booth that was destroyed in the trade center collapse reopened Thursday in a downtown trailer. Dianne Richards of Louisville, Ky., a regular visitor who was looking for ``Beauty and the Beast'' tickets, said she hasn't noticed much change in New York _ ``except for the quiet.''

Officials at Circle Line, which resumed boat tours Sept. 19, are running only two-thirds the usual number of trips. Spokesman Peter Cavrell said many passengers want to get a good look at the altered skyline.

``They're curious, or they want to remember and compare,'' he said.

The Empire State Building's 86th-floor observation deck reopened Sept. 29, its hours limited to weeknights and weekends. The New York Stock Exchange reopened less than a week after the attack, but its visitors' center is still closed.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art had sharp drops in attendance when they reopened after the disaster. MOMA Director Glenn Lowry said the numbers are slowly rebounding.

The old ships and the art gallery of the South Street Seaport Museum were closed until Sept. 21 because ``phones were out, lights were out and the neighborhood was off-limits,'' spokeswoman Madeline Rogers said.

At the Museum of the American Indian, which did not reopen until Oct. 1, police are still the courtyard as a staging area.

At ground zero, the smoldering pile of about 1.2 million tons of debris has slowly shrunk. Some 258,710 tons _ nearly 16,000 truckloads _ have been hauled away to a former Staten Island landfill. Workers paused Thursday as the one-month milestone passed.

``I have to admit, there's not a day goes by I don't get tears in my eyes,'' said Edwin Soseby, a member of the Army Corps of Engineers working at the site.