Entries in Washington Monument (5)


Washington Monument Could Remain Closed Until 2014

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Visitors to Washington, D.C., may not be able to tour the Washington Monument until 2014, due to extensive repairs resulting from last summer's earthquake.

Exterior scaffolding will have to be erected on the outside of the 555-ft. monument and extensive work done inside and outside to repair damage from last year's earthquake, the National Parks Service said. It's a project that could take 18 months.

The Washington Monument was first opened to the public in 1888.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Billionaire Gives $7.5 Million to Repair Washington Monument

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The cracked and cratered Washington Monument is now well on its way to full repair after billionaire investor David Rubenstein donated $7.5 million to fix the damage caused by an August earthquake.

Rubenstein’s gift is the largest ever made to the Trust for the National Mall and is his third multi-million dollar donation to the nation’s capital city in the past year.

The Washington Monument has been shuttered since Aug. 23, following a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that literally rocked the foundations of Washington’s tallest monument, cracking its marble exterior, damaging its elevator and creating a 4-foot long, one-inch wide crack through which visitors could see daylight.

With the now $15 million repair fund, half of which was appropriated by Congress and half of which came from Rubenstein, the Park Service said it expected the repairs would be completed by August 2013.

Rubenstein, a prominent D.C. philanthropist, is the co-founder of the global private equity firm the Carlyle Group, which handles $148 billion in assets, according to the firm’s website. He is also the chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a regent at the Smithsonian Institution.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Climbers Rappel Down Washington Monument to Survey Damage

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A lone engineer anchored ropes to the pyramid atop the 555-foot Washington Monument Tuesday morning. Dave Megerle, from engineering firm Wiss Janney Elstner Associates, was busy working, securing four sets of ropes for climbers who will rappel down all four sides of the Washington Monument to look for damage inflicted by last month’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

The engineering firm is working with the National Park Service to survey any exterior damage caused by the quake. Climbers will scale the monument Tuesday to look for cracks and small rocks -- called spalls -- that may have come loose during the earthquake but are hanging onto the stone slabs.

“The climbers will communicate by radio with colleagues on the ground who will be documenting what the climbers observe,” Bob Vogel, of the National Park Service, said Monday. Vogel added the climbers will also remove any spalls they find by hand, if they can do so safely.

The monument remains closed to visitors; National Park Service said it will have a better estimate for the re-opening date in mid-October.

The park service released new earthquake video from the observation deck of the monument Monday that documents the violent rocking and shaking visitors felt near the top of the obelisk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Climbers to Rappel Down Washington Monument to Survey Damage

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Professional climbers will rappel down all four sides of the Washington Monument Tuesday to get a closer look at any exterior damage caused by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Washington, D.C., in late August.
The project is part of the National Park Service’s ongoing damage assessment. For a thorough survey, said Brandon Latham, a climbing ranger from Denali National Park, Alaska, ropes will be anchored from an access hatch near the top of the monument. Climbers will then crawl out windows at the observation deck, and head upwards to the access hatch to complete a top-to-bottom survey.
While the project sounds like something out of a spy movie, it’s not an uncommon move. The project team handling the survey has rappelled down a 220-foot obelisk in New Jersey, numerous state capitols, and buildings that are about the same height as the 555-foot Washington Monument.
The climbers will be looking for any cracks, as well as small rocks that may have come loose during the earthquake and are still hanging onto the monument’s stone slabs. Such rock fragments, called spalls, have already been removed from inside the Washington Monument, said Jennifer Talken-Spaulding of the National Park Service.
The agency says the monument’s elevator cables, damaged during the earthquake, will be replaced. The elevator was at level zero when the earthquake struck. Once the climbers and surveyors have pored over the exterior of the monument, the National Park Service said it will cover all open joints and cracks to prevent further weather damage. At the moment, said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall, a “substantial amount of water” is getting into the monument because of cracks and damaged joints missing mortar.
The park service did not give a date for when the monument will be open to visitors, adding that they will be in a better position in mid-October to estimate a re-opening date.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


East Coast Quake Causes Some Damage in DC

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The largest East Coast quake in memory rattled nerves and buildings from Martha's Vineyard to North Carolina Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of Congressional buildings, slowing rail and air traffic, and forcing two nuclear reactors offline.

The earthquake, estimated to be a 5.8 magnitude, sent people pouring out of office buildings, hospitals, the Pentagon and the State Department when it struck at 1:51 p.m.  The pillars of the capitol in Washington, D.C., shook.  Alarms sounded in the FBI and Department of Justice buildings, and some flooding was reported on an upper floor of the Pentagon as a result of the quake.

Parks and sidewalks in Washington were packed with people who fled their buildings.  All of the monuments along the National Mall were closed as a result.  Police on horseback kept people a safe distance from the Washington Monument and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

The National Parks Service found "some cracking in the stones at the top of the [Washington] Monument" after it completed a secondary inspection.  The monument will be closed on Wednesday while structural engineers evaluate the damage.

Other tourist attractions along the National Mall -- like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial,  and the World War II Memorial -- were not damaged and will remain open, according to the NPS.

The National Cathedral in Washington suffered damage to at least three of the cathedral's pinnacles, Dean of the Cathedral Samuel Lloyd said.  The cathedral has been cordoned off with yellow police tape as a precaution.

Officials inspected Congressional buildings before members of Congress and their staff were allowed to return to their offices.

The quake was felt as far north as New Hampshire and in Martha's Vineyard where President Obama and his family are vacationing.  It was felt as far south as South Carolina and as far west as Cleveland, Ohio.

Over the last 10 years, earthquakes have been felt in every state, said geophysicists with the U.S. Geological Survey at a press conference late Tuesday afternoon.  Tuesday's quake was felt in 25 states, an event the USGS' David Wald called "rather unique."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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