First lady reopens Washington monument after 3-year closure

First Lady cuts ribbon on reopened Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is once again open to visitors after millions of dollars in private donations made critical repairs after the obelisk was damaged by an natural disaster eight years ago.

The 555-foot tall marble obelisk named after the nation's first President has received an upgrade to the existing elevator, as well as a new permanent screening facility, according to a release by the National Park Service.

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It opened in 1886 to honor George Washington, but age and a 2011 quake took a toll, leaving cracks and other damage to the landmark.

The monument closed in 2016 after an elevator cable snapped, but the years of repairs covered far more than that broken wire. "So we really didn't want to close it".

Mr. Litterst said he expects a big crowd at the reopening, noting that people lined up at 4 a.m. when the monument reopened in 2014 following repairs due to a 2011 natural disaster. He recalled a more innocent pre-9/11 time when visitors were hardly screened at all and overnight security consisted of "a couple of alarms and two iron gates that we locked at night".

The National Park Service will hand out the first tickets to visitors at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and said the first group should travel to the top around 11:30 a.m. after first lady Melania Trump cuts the ribbon during the reopening ceremony.

"We're frankly excited to get the monument back open to the public", Hill said. For now, tickets must be purchased in person; Reinbold said they would soon begin offering about half of any given day's tickets online.

Construction of the monument began in 1848, and did not complete until 1888. The private organization that was running the project, however, ran out of funding and construction stalled in 1854 at about 150 feet; the delay was stretched due to the Civil War.

When the obelisk was first completed, it was the tallest building in the world. At the time of its construction in 1884, it was the tallest building in the world and is still the tallest building in Washington, receiving about 500,000 visitors a year.



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