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The Washington Monument reopened yesterday after a three-year hiatus. The famed D.C. marble obelisk closed in 2011 after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake (The Virginia Earthquake) cracked the structure. The cracks have finally been repaired, and the monument is back in business to the public.
The Washington Monument is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and was completed in 1884 to commemorate George Washington’s positions as first American president and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. The monument, which stands 555 feet tall, is both the world’s tallest obelisk and the world’s tallest stone structure. The Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world at its official opening in October, 1988, but was soon surpassed by the Eiffel Tower in 1889.
Interest in the construction of the memorial began in 1832, when a group of citizens formed the Washington National Monument Society. They raised $28,000 by the following year, and started a competition for the design. Robert Mills, who had also recently been chosen as the Architect of Public Buildings for Washington, won the competition. Excavations for the monument started in 1848, although construction was halted for a couple decades due to lack of donations and the Civil War. Building of the monument resumed in 1879, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and was finally dedicated on February 21, 1885.
The best way to visit the Washington Monument is by taking a tour of the obelisk. Tours commence on the top floor (at 500 feet), where an observation deck offers views from the north, south, east, and west sides of the structure. Next on the tour is a museum at 490, and a narrated elevator ride to the ground floor. To visit the monument, you can either get free same-day tickets at the Washington Monument Lodge on 15th Street next to the monument, or purchase tickets in advance online.