Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Illuminating the Washington Monument Under Earthquake Repair

Newly illuminated Washington Monument scaffodling, Ellipse, Washington DC 

In August, 2011, the District of Calamity was rocked with a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.  This unusual East Coast temblor caused damage to several iconic landmarks between the beltways, including  several pinnacles of the Washington National Cathedral and the Washington Monument.

Surveying earthquake damage 2011
The large obelisk on the Ellipse known as the Washington Monument suffered significant damage to the exterior and interior masonry, the lighting protection system and the elevator. Some of the stones had cracks all the way through. Mortar is missing between some pieces which was shaken loose by the bad vibrations at the top.  In one case, a massive stone shifted a thumbs length out of line.  The worst of the damage was 470 feet up the 555 foot structure.

After the damage survey was conducted in 2011, it took 20 months to implement the 18 month restoration plan and erect the scaffolding.  The some of the scaffolding had been around the Washington Monument for so long that when out of town visitors generically asked about the construction on the Mall, it was easy to mistake their inquiry to be about the 17th Street canal.  Congress allotted half of the $15 million Washington Monument restoration costs and businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein stepped in and  bankrolled the additional $7.5 million.

To make the necessary scaffolding more aesthetic, the Washington Monument scaffolding was recently illuminated.  The National Parks Service contemplating doing this on Independence Day, but did not want to take away from the Fourth of July fireworks experience.

h/t: Huffington Post

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