Washington Monument reopens after nearly three years of repairs

Yesterday afternoon marked the official reopening of the Washington Monument after it underwent a nearly three-year $15 million repair job.

The nation’s favorite obelisk—which today still remains the world’s largest freestanding stone structure—had previously been closed since the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit D.C. in August 2011. This unusual quake caused over 150 cracks in the monument, and 132 chunks of stone were ultimately replaced with marble from the same quarry in Maryland that produced some of the building’s original stones.

Public tours of the monument opened at 1 p.m. as thousands of visitors lined up to wait for a 70 second ride up to the top for that famous view of the National Mall, the Capitol building, and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. Drawing nearly 700,000 visitors a year, the brief ride to the top of the Washington Monument has been a highlight for millions of tourists over recent decades. (Vox also admits that seeing the Washington Monument without all the ugly 500 tons of scaffolding is definitely a sight for sore eyes.)

Tickets can be reserved online, but they’re already booked into June. The National Park Service, however, has extended its operating hours from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. until the end of the summer.

Photo: Glenn Beltz via flickr

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