WASHINGTON - More than 150 cracks have been repaired, rainwater leaks have been sealed, and the 130-year-old Washington Monument will reopen Monday for the first time in nearly three years since an earthquake caused widespread damage.
The memorial honoring George Washington has been closed for about 33 months for engineers to conduct an extensive analysis and restoration of the 555-foot stone obelisk that was once the tallest structure in the world.
The monument's white marble and mortar were cracked and shaken loose during an unusual 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011 that sent some of the worst vibrations to the top. Debris fell inside and outside the monument, and visitors scrambled to evacuate. Later, engineers evaluated the damage by rappelling from the top, dangling from ropes.
New exhibits have been installed, and visitors can once again ride an elevator to look out from the highest point in the nation's capital. The full restoration cost $15 million. Businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein contributed $7.5 million to pay half the cost and expedite the repairs.