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Gary Younge
New York cash plea for Lady Liberty

"Lady Liberty", a gift from the French, whose torch symbolised hope to millions of immigrants over the generations, has been closed to the public since September 11, and will remain so unless the city can raise $5m (£2.94m).

A credit card firm and a coffee business have agreed to provide much of the money, which will go to improve fire and emergency facilities and provide more exits at the statue's base. Many New York legislators are angry that they had to ask at all, after the federal government offered a 10% rise in the operating budget for Liberty and Ellis islands - home to the statue, and the centre that processed immigrants and is now a museum of immigration.

"It's great people want to open Lady Liberty again, but the city shouldn't have to go around with a tin cup to keep monuments open," said Carolyn Maloney, chair of the task force on homeland security for the House of Representatives' Democratic caucus.

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