Washington Monument opens 3 years after earthquake

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

An iconic symbol. A priceless gift. A silent sentinel.

Call it what you will, but the Washington Monument’s most important label on Monday was “open” after a three-year, post-earthquake repair effort.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis joined Park Service Superintendent Bob Vogel and a few hundred history fans at the southwest base of the 555-foot obelisk to cut the ribbon on the repaired D.C. landmark.

“We are thrilled to be able to once again open its doors,” Mr. Vogel said from the stage, decorated in red, white and blue bunting. “It’s been a really long road.”

The more than century-old structure had been closed since August 2011, when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook most of the East Coast. Some of the monument’s stones were cracked, mortar was shaken loose, and the elevator that hauls tourists to the observation deck was damaged.

For the first time since the quake, public tours were available Monday to ticket holders. While advance tickets are sold out for several weeks, same-day tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Vickie Jodrey, 50, of Cincinnati, said she and her husband had no idea they would be able to get same-day tickets, but they ended up in possession of two for a 5 p.m. tour.

“I’m so amazed,” the medical assistant said. “Just the monument itself, you get that view above everything, and the history of it. It’s kind of emotional.”

Alexandria resident Seema Singh, 60, said she has lived in the area for seven years but had never gone to the top of the monument.

Sitting one of the marble benches that ring the base of the monument, she said she was saddened when she first heard about its closure. After three years of waiting, Ms. Singh said she had two tickets for the 4:30 p.m. tour with her husband.

“I like heights,” she said. “I want to see how it looks.”

Repairing and restoring the monument cost $15 million, half of which was paid by a federal grant and the other by philanthropist David M. Rubenstein.

“We knew the restoration would be a challenge,” Mr. Jarvis said. “Reopening the Washington Monument was a huge task. Only ask one of the workers dangling off this structure.”

Those workers were part of a crew of engineers who rappelled down the sheer faces of the monument, looking for damage stone by stone. The survey and a seismic study were just a few of the tests and treatments the monument received while shuttered for repairs.

“I have only one question,” said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting member of Congress. “Is this thing earthquake-proof?

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • The District of Columbia has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

    D.C. police quietly prepping for change in law on marijuana

  • D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate David Catania, at large independent, said that although he had some concerns with the city's fiscal 2015 budget, namely the 'yoga tax,' he said issues could be addressed in next year's budget discussions. (Associated Press)

    Council overrides mayor’s veto of fiscal 2015 budget

  • 3 killed, 4 wounded Sunday in three D.C. shootings

  • D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser, one of seven Democrats trying to unseat the incumbent District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray in next week's primary, campaigns on Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, Thursday, March 27, 2014. Loyalists are rallying around the mayor, and few are writing him off. But his troubles have provided an opening for one of his challengers, and D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser appears to be taking advantage. Two polls released a week before the primary showed Bowser in a statistical tie with Gray.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

    Crime hits close to home for D.C. mayoral candidate

  • Gray

    D.C. Council to vote on Gray’s budget veto