Grand reopening set for May at Washington Monument


As the Washington Monument is seen in the distance, a woman walks along the Tidal Basin under the bare branches of the cherry trees on Monday. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

After 32 months and $15 million in repair work, the venerable Washington Monument will reopen for public tours May 12, the National Park Service announced Tuesday.

The monument has been closed since a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Washington region Aug. 23, 2011, and shook the structure from its base to the top of its pyramidion.

For months, the 555-foot-tall monument was encased in 500 tons of scaffolding, inside and out, as workers repaired cracks and places where the stone had been shaken loose by the earthquake.

The last of the repair scaffolding, which started going up more than a year ago, will begin to come down this week, the Park Service said.

The Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall will host a reopening ceremony at 10 a.m. May 12. Tours of the monument will begin at 1 p.m. that day. The tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Monument Lodge, on 15th Street between Madison and Jefferson drives, the Park Service said.

Tickets for tours on May 13 and all future dates will be available on the Park Service reservation page, www.recreation.gov, starting at 10 a.m. April 16.

The monument, which was begun in 1848 and finished in 1884, will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the summer.

“We are delighted to be in the home stretch with the repairs,” Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a statement.

Local philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, who funded half the repair cost, said in the Park Service’s statement: “The National Park Service has done a spectacular job . . . and I hope as many people as possible will soon be able to see the unique view from the top.”

In a typical year, about 600,000 visitors enter the monument, which honors George Washington, Revolutionary War hero and the nation’s first president. It is one of the most famous structures in the world and a hallowed presence on the Washington landscape.

Mike is a general assignment reporter who also covers Washington institutions and historical topics.
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