Memorial to George Washington Has Been Closed for 3 Years
After being closed and covered in scaffold for nearly three years, the Washington Monument will reopen to the public at 1 p.m. May 12 with a ceremony at 11 a.m. near the Washington Monument Lodge.
In 2011, the 555-foot structure-the centerpiece of the National Mall-was damaged during a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred southwest of D.C. The damages included loose stone fragments and various interior panel cracks.The National Park Service decided to close the monument honoring George Washington while it underwent repairs, covering it with scaffold and illuminating lights.
The cost of the Washington Monument Earthquake Repair Projecttotaled about $15 million and is now complete. The repairs also brought about renovations including an elevator with a plasma window so that visitors can admire the view while riding to the top.
Donte Colbert, a Big Bus D.C. tour guide, says the closure often disappointed tourists who selected the National Mall Tour, but the renovations will be worth it. “People were a little upset when they couldn’t go inside the Monument, but they could still see it and the flags were still there for pictures. They just couldn’t go up,” he said. “Honestly, people really just have to understand that the earthquake was actually historic for D.C., and the renovated Monument is going to be great.”
Jennifer Francis, a tourist from Connecticut, admits that she was expecting the Washington Monument to be open, but still enjoyed her day on The Mall with her family. “My kids took some awesome pictures pinching the Monument and ran around a little so they had a good time,” she says. “We can visit again when they are a little older and want to go to the top.”
Other tourists like Pat Webb from Florida say they are happy just to have warm weather for tours. “I wasn’t sure if the weather was going to be good enough for a tour, but I’m glad it held up and the tour guide told us exactly what the Monument stood for, which was good enough for me,” Webb says.
To better accommodate the large crowds expected, the National Park Service has announced that theWashington Monument will have extended operating hours from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. through the summer. A free advance ticketing system will begin May 13, with ticket pick up at the Washington Monument Lodge located on the Monument grounds near 15th Street. A limited number of same day tickets will also be available there.