After being closed for repairs for nearly three years, the Washington Monument is set to reopen to visitors on Monday. The stone obelisk was damaged during a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rumbled up the east coast on August 23, 2011. Maybe you’ll recall it as the earthquake that was slower than Twitter.
The restoration of the monument cost $15 million, half of which came from the government and was then matched by private equity businessman David Rubenstein. “It became clear to me that the Washington Monument symbolizes many things for our country — the freedoms, patriotism, George Washington, leadership,” Rubenstein told the Associated Press.
The worst damage occurred at the top of the monument, about 50 feet from the top: according to the AP, “Stones were chipped and cracked all the way through with deep gashes in some places. Others had hairline cracks that had to be sealed.” Some of the damaged marble was replaced with stone from the same quarry as the 129-year-old structure’s original. In all, 132 stones were replaced.
The monument will have a ceremony in its honor on Monday before it reopens at 1 p.m. In attendance will be Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, American Idol winner Candace Glover, and weatherman Al Roker. Park officials estimate that around 700,000–800,000 people visit the monument each year.
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