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Washington Monument to Reopen

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May 12, 2014

The Washington Monument will reopen to the public, more than two years after being closed for repairs.

The iconic obelisk that honors America's first President had been shut for 33 months after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake created several dozen cracks in the 555-stone structure. Debris fell inside the monument during the August 2011 earthquake. Engineers were forced to assess the damage by rappeling from the top.

In all, engineers targeted more than 150 cracks for repair. The full restoration, including fixing rainwater leaks, cost $15 million. Half of that was paid by businessman-philanthropist David Rubenstein, co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group. Rubenstein has played a key role in other Washington, D.C., restorations, including the National Mall.

Figures from a few years ago show that the Washington Monument draws abou 700,000 visitors every year, with the elevator ride to the top a prime attraction. New exhibits along the way will tempt visitors to spend more time between bottom and top.

The monument, the world's tallest freestanding stone structure, was completed in 1884, after a two-phase construction process that began in 1848. The monument was the world's tallest building until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower took that title.

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