Deep gashes and graffiti have spoiled the once-shining Wall of Honor on Ellis Island that was unveiled six months ago in memory of the thousands of immigrants who passed through the gateway to the United States.
The 951-foot copper wall, engraved with the names of 200,000 immigrants, will probably be repaired and cleaned this summer, the National Park Service, which maintains and administers the island, said Saturday.
It had not yet been determined if the engraved panels, which are on top of a waist-high wall that runs along the edge of the island, would be closed to the public or would be removed for repairs, spokesman Manny Strumpf said.
Careless tourists and sea gulls are as much responsible for the damage to the wall as vandals, Strumpf said.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which spearheaded the $156-million restoration of the island, allowed anyone who wanted to have a name inscribed on the wall to do so for a $100 minimum donation.
Strumpf said the foundation has been testing a new and stronger sealer on three panels of the wall. If it proves effective in protecting the copper surface, all several hundred panels will be coated with it, he said.