While the Washington Monument is closed for earthquake damage repairs over the next year, 488 lamps will restore the marble tower's glow each night on the National Mall. The National Park Service lit up the monument for the first time last night, and will continue to do so each night at dusk. A crowd gathered on the Mall and at the Lincoln Memorial as the park service turned on the lights of a decorative design in sections, starting at the bottom.
National Mall Superintendent Bob Vogel says the lighting marks a milestone in the years-long effort to restore and reopen the monument to President George Washington. "We know that our visitors are disappointed that they can't actually go up in the monument," he says. "So, we hope that this will make up for it just a little." Philanthropist David Rubenstein, who donated $7.5 million to fund half the cost of repairs, took part in the first lighting.