Washington under construction

Scaffolding, scrim await tourists at familiar landmarks

  • Scaffolding rises to the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, Thursday, May 2, 2013, so craftsmen can make repairs to the 555-foot marble obelisk that was damaged in the August 2011 earthquake. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Scaffolding rises to the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, Thursday, May 2, 2013, so craftsmen can make repairs to the 555-foot marble obelisk that was damaged in the August 2011 earthquake. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Workers begin building scaffolding around the Washington Monument to make repairs to stonework damaged in the 2011 earthquake,
Washington, D.C. region, Washington, D.C., Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Workers begin building scaffolding around the Washington Monument to make repairs to stonework damaged in the 2011 earthquake, Washington, D.C. region, Washington, D.C., Thursday, March 7, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Brittany Jorgensen, 28, a student at George Washington University, takes her lunch break in a hidden shadowy oasis at Constitution Gardens Pond to beat the heat, in Washington, DC Thursday, May 30, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Brittany Jorgensen, 28, a student at George Washington University, takes her lunch break in a hidden shadowy oasis at Constitution Gardens Pond to beat the heat, in Washington, DC Thursday, May 30, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • Scaffolding rises to the top of the Washington Monument, Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Washington, so craftsmen can make repairs to the 555-foot marble obelisk that was damaged in the August 2011 earthquake. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)Scaffolding rises to the top of the Washington Monument, Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Washington, so craftsmen can make repairs to the 555-foot marble obelisk that was damaged in the August 2011 earthquake. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • Marine One, with President Barack Obama aboard, flies past the Washington Monument as workers build scaffolding to the top, Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Washington, to make repairs to the 555-foot marble obelisk that was damaged in the August 2011 earthquake. President Obama is en route to Texas, as part of his ìMiddle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tours." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)Marine One, with President Barack Obama aboard, flies past the Washington Monument as workers build scaffolding to the top, Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Washington, to make repairs to the 555-foot marble obelisk that was damaged in the August 2011 earthquake. President Obama is en route to Texas, as part of his ìMiddle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tours." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • Construction beams and netting line the ceiling as visitors and patrons of Union Station travel to their destinations, in Washington, DC Wednesday, May 29, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Construction beams and netting line the ceiling as visitors and patrons of Union Station travel to their destinations, in Washington, DC Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • Construction beams and netting line the ceiling of Union Station as contractors continue their repair and maintenance efforts on the historic icon, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Construction beams and netting line the ceiling of Union Station as contractors continue their repair and maintenance efforts on the historic icon, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • Construction beams and netting line the ceiling as visitors and patrons of Union Station travel to their destinations, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Construction beams and netting line the ceiling as visitors and patrons of Union Station travel to their destinations, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • People wait to enter, outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, on Monday March, 25, 2013, a day before the case for gay and lesbian couples rights, will be argued before the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)People wait to enter, outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, on Monday March, 25, 2013, a day before the case for gay and lesbian couples rights, will be argued before the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
  • The Supreme Court is seen through fencing in Washington on Saturday March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)The Supreme Court is seen through fencing in Washington on Saturday March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
  • ** FILE ** Visitors walk past the Supreme Court in Washington on Saturday, March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)** FILE ** Visitors walk past the Supreme Court in Washington on Saturday, March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
  • Scaffolding encompasses the entire building as renovation efforts are put in place at the Smithsonian's Art & Industrial Building, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Scaffolding encompasses the entire building as renovation efforts are put in place at the Smithsonian's Art & Industrial Building, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • Scaffolding encompasses the entire building as renovation efforts are put in place at the Smithsonian's Art & Industrial Building, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Scaffolding encompasses the entire building as renovation efforts are put in place at the Smithsonian's Art & Industrial Building, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • Scaffolding is put in place for renovation efforts at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Scaffolding is put in place for renovation efforts at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • Through a barbed wire fence,the Washington National Cathedral shows signs of construction repairs in the months following the earthquake which damaged the landmark, in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, February 22, 2012.  (Rod Lamkey Jr/The Washington Times)Through a barbed wire fence,the Washington National Cathedral shows signs of construction repairs in the months following the earthquake which damaged the landmark, in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, February 22, 2012. (Rod Lamkey Jr/The Washington Times)
  • The Washington National Cathedral, Washington D.C., Sunday, August 6, 2012.  (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)The Washington National Cathedral, Washington D.C., Sunday, August 6, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)
  • Cathedral Stone Mason/Stone Carvers Sean Callahan and Andy Uhl, right, pose for a photo on the top of  scaffolding constructed on the north east corner of the Apse, the eastern most point of the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 22, 2013. Repairs continue on the Washington National Cathedral, which sustained millions of dollars worth of damage from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August of 2011(Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Cathedral Stone Mason/Stone Carvers Sean Callahan and Andy Uhl, right, pose for a photo on the top of scaffolding constructed on the north east corner of the Apse, the eastern most point of the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 22, 2013. Repairs continue on the Washington National Cathedral, which sustained millions of dollars worth of damage from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August of 2011(Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Head Stone Mason Joe Alonso stands on scaffolding which has been constructed to repair spires that broke off the Washington National Cathedral during a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August of 2011, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 22, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Head Stone Mason Joe Alonso stands on scaffolding which has been constructed to repair spires that broke off the Washington National Cathedral during a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August of 2011, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 22, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Scaffolding encompasses the entire building as renovation efforts are put in place at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Scaffolding encompasses the entire building as renovation efforts are put in place at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
  • Cranes soar above a worksite as construction continues on The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture which will open in 2015, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)Cranes soar above a worksite as construction continues on The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture which will open in 2015, in Washington, DC Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Andrew S Geraci/The Washington Times)
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Millions of people each year make the trek to the District to see its monuments and museums and walk the halls where laws are passed and history is made.

But thanks to the lingering effects of an earthquake nearly two years ago, various philanthropic efforts and good old-fashioned wear and tear, some of the most iconic sites and vistas in the nation’s capital won’t look like they do in photographs and films.

Decked out in scaffolding and scrim, familiar sites citywide are undergoing repairs, renovations and improvements. And while some visitors might be disappointed, officials say it’s unlikely to keep the summer crowds away.

“Tourists who come somewhere like the District, they want to see things without construction,” said Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. “Yes, there’s a lot of work being done, but that doesn’t deter people from coming.”

At a towering 555 feet, the granite obelisk has stood sentry in the center of the Mall for 128 years. Until the August 2011 earthquake, more than a half-million people annually visited the monument, many clutching tickets to take them to the small viewing area at the top that offers prime views of the city.

After suffering damage in the 5.8-magnitude quake, the monument was closed. National Park Service officials put a $15 million price tag on the repairs, which included fixing the elevator, resealing a 4-foot-long crack and patching joints. To do that, the monument has been encased in scaffolding and will remain that way until next year.

But this isn’t your average scaffold. Park Service officials ordered the same kind used during the restoration project in 1999. It combines lighting and draping to give the structure a luminescent appearance at night.

Occupying the highest point in the District, the century-old cathedral has played host to presidential funerals, memorials and standing-room only Christmas services. But, like the Washington Monument, it was violently jolted by the 2011 earthquake that twisted stone turrets weighing more than a ton.

Unlike the Washington Monument, the cathedral only has scaffolding on its towers and was reopened soon after the quake. Inside the cavernous structure, dense netting is strung across the ceiling to catch any remaining pieces of mortar and debris that could be shaken loose by restoration efforts.

A spokeswoman said $9 million has been raised to help restore the cathedral but at least $20 million is needed for the repairs, which could take up to 10 years to complete.

The work is time-consuming and money is tight, but in May the cathedral won out against 23 other locations in the District vying for a $100,000 grant for restoration.

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