You Can Finally Visit Washington Monument Again
Landmark reopens 3 years after earthquake
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2014 7:36 AM CDT
Sunrise behind the Washington Monument is seen from Arlington House in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Sunday, May 4, 2014.   (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

(Newser) – More than 150 cracks have been repaired, rainwater leaks have been sealed, and the 130-year-old Washington Monument will reopen today for the first time in nearly three years since an earthquake caused widespread damage. The memorial has been closed for about 33 months for engineers to conduct an extensive analysis and restoration of the 555-foot stone obelisk that was once the tallest structure in the world. In addition to repairs, some new exhibits have been added.

The monument was damaged during an unusual 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011, which sent debris falling inside and outside the monument, as visitors scrambled to evacuate. Later, engineers evaluated the damage by rappelling from the top, dangling from ropes. The restoration has cost $15 million, half of it contributed by businessman David Rubenstein. The philanthropist says he's seen an outpouring of gratitude for that gift. "It became clear to me that the Washington Monument symbolizes many things for our country—the freedoms, patriotism, George Washington, leadership."