After three years repairing earthquake damage, the Washington Monument reopened to visitors Monday.
The National Park Service held a ceremony to mark the occasion, with the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who paid for part of the $15 million tab required to make repairs on the monument, attending.
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A 5.8 magnitude earthquake damaged the memorial for President George Washington in August 2011.
The earthquake cracked marble in the 130-year-old historic monument and said Rubenstein donated half of the costs to fix it, Time magazine noted
Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, had been in his position just a few weeks when the quake occurred.
“I have to admit it was something of a trial by fire and a huge challenge,” he told The Washington Post
To determine how much damage occurred, inspectors had to be lowered on ropes from the top to look at each damaged stone.
In all, the project took 2.7 miles of sealant between the stones, which had been held in place mainly by gravity, and 53 stainless steel anchors to hold down the slabs should another earthquake occur, the Post said.
Caroline L. Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall, the Mall’s nonprofit fundraising partner, said that during the construction she was able to go to the top of the scaffolding that was put up and touch the tip of the 555-foot building.
“That was, I think, the most amazing thing that I’ve ever done in my life,” she told the Post, adding that the view was breathtaking.
An official Washington Monument YouTube video shows the entire process using a time lapse technique.
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