It’s been off-limits for years, but the Washington Monument is finally ready for visitors.
After 37 months of upgrades and repairs—not to mention a brand-new elevator control system and security screening facility—the D.C. landmark is set to reopen its doors beginning 19 September. For the first month, tickets will only be available in person on a first-come, first-served basis; after that, they can also be preordered, up to three months in advance. (There’s a small reservation fee, but the tickets themselves are free.)
One of the world’s tallest free-standing stone structures, the monument reaches more than 555 feet (169 meters) in the air, with an observation deck at 500—a distance the new elevator scales in roughly 70 seconds. It takes a bit longer on the way down, slowing at certain points to give passengers a glimpse of the monument’s interior, but the trip still only takes about two minutes.
Back in September 2016, when the National Park Service announced the closure, the monument had been plagued by months of elevator problems. That spring, the 15-year-old lift got stuck twice in four days, and in August, a cable broke lose, each incident prompting temporary shutdowns and attempted rehab before officials gave in and shuttered the building indefinitely.
“It’s a long-term closure, one that will be measured in months,” NPS spokesman Mike Litterst told the Washington Post at the time. Before this, the monument sustained structural damage from an earthquake in 2011, but as the paper reports, the elevator problems predate that event—though officials wondered if earthquake damage might have effected the elevator too. (Meanwhile, CNN noted that “a third-party inspector didn’t ‘see any evidence’ that the earthquake [was] a factor.”)
Regardless, the repairs took a few years—the monument didn’t reopen until 2014, and then it was only a matter of time before it closed again for more work. Boasting a granite and marble facade, the monument was completed in 1884 after 36 years of construction, and it sees some 600,000 visitors a year, according to the Post.
The post After a three-year wait, the Washington Monument is finally reopening to the public
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