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Washington Monument Re-opens!

May 13th, 2014

Washington Monument. Photo credit: HTE Kids News

Washington DC, in addition to being the U.S.’s capital, is a super popular spring break and tourist destination.

One of its most famous attractions, the Washington Monument, has been closed for the past three years for repairs … and finally re-opened yesterday!

Normally, you can go to the top to see spectacular views of Washington DC. There are nearly 900 steps (and, more importantly, an elevator) to get to the top of this 555-foot obelisk, but it’s been closed since August 2011 after an earthquake damaged it.

Thankfully, the Washington Monument was built to last, but there were over 150 cracks in the structure (yikes) … most of them at the top.

A crack at the top of the Washington Monument. Photo courtesy: National Park Service

Over 20,000 stones had to be carefully inspected, 6,000 pieces of scaffolding constructed, and 40-mile an hour winds at the top to deal with. Inspectors at one point rappelled down the sides in ropes and harnesses like something out of a movie.

Assessing the damage at the top of the Washington Monument. Photo courtesy: National Park Service

The repair bill? $15 million — half of which was generously donated by one man, David Rubenstein, who felt strongly about what the historic monument represents — patriotism and leadership.

The Washington Monument originally opened to the public in 1888, nearly 130 years ago. Grover Cleveland was president at the time.

It was built in two phases (with a 22-year gap between them) as a tribute to the U.S.’s first president, George Washington.

It was the tallest building in the world when it was completed, outdone a few years later by Paris, France’s Eiffel Tower.  It’s nowhere near the tallest building in the world now, but it is the tallest building in Washington DC because of laws restricting the height of buildings there. And it’s still the world’s tallest free-standing stone structure.

Here is EarthCam’s time lapse video of the entire restoration — 3 years in 1 minute!

To learn more about the Washington Monument, you can click here to be taken to the National Park Service website .

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