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Washington Monument reopens nearly 3 years after earthquake

WASHINGTON (AP) - The towering symbol that honors the nation's first president reopened to the public Monday, nearly three years after an earthquake cracked and chipped the 130-year-old stone obelisk.

After fences were dismantled and construction equipment removed, the Washington Monument drew a cross section of Americans who wanted to be among to first visit the newly reopened historic site. For many of them, it was their first chance to see the 555-foot-tall monument's interior and the nation's capital from its highest point.

"I've seen pictures of it, but I've never been here to see it," said Brandon Hillock, 22, from near Salt Lake City, visiting after a two-year Mormon mission in Virginia. "It's really cool to come here and experience what this is all about and the history behind it."

Engineers have spent nearly 1,000 days on an extensive analysis and restoration of what was once the tallest structure in the world. A 5.8-magnitude quake in August 2011 caused widespread damage. It shook some stones loose and caused more than 150 cracks. From massive scaffolding built around the monument after the quake, engineers and stone masons made repairs stone by stone.

Now, new exhibits have been installed at the top, and visitors can once again ride an elevator to look out over the National Mall. The National Park Service is offering extended hours through the summer for daytime and evening visits. Tickets can be reserved online, but they're already booked into June.

Kourtney Butler of Miami just graduated from Howard University, but the monument has been closed and under construction for most of her four years living in Washington.

"I wanted to get a chance to see it," she said. "I really like the monuments and the national mall. I think I've been to all the Smithsonian museums and art exhibits. So it was the last one I hadn't seen."

Kristopher Lewis of Augusta, Georgia, and his wife, Mary Lewis, were visiting Washington for a conference.

"I played in front of the monument when I was in the eighth-grade band, so I wanted to come back and see it," Mary Lewis said.

For Kristopher Lewis, it was his first visit. Looking up, he said he felt patriotic.

"There's so many amazing historical sites in Washington, D.C., and just to be able to go up to the top of the monument and to look around and see all the city from that vantage point, not to mention the history of the monument itself, I think will be wonderful," he said.

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KATHI AND JOHN May 13 2014 at 12:07 AM

good ....they must have the SPY equipment all installed in it and up and and running

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lymanjohnf May 12 2014 at 4:37 PM

Years ago, when it was still possible to climb the interior stairs of the Monument, all the commemorative bronze plaques mounted to the inside walls going back several generations were visible and readable. Now, with the elevator being the ONLY public access to the Monument, those plaques are no longer visible to the visitor. Too bad - those plaques memoralize emotional links to the Monument from various groups all across the U.S. - that sort of connection seems to be no longer relevant.

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1 reply
Joebudgie lymanjohnf May 12 2014 at 5:41 PM

I agree. I was stationed at Quantico Marine Base about 35 miles South of DC in 1970 and 1971 and visited "The Mall" and its monuments and museums often to pass my spare time pleasantly. When I climbed up the stairs to the top of the Washington monument there was virtually no waiting for the stairs and a very short line for the elevator. I remember reading all those placks.

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sueolds29 May 12 2014 at 2:52 PM

Send him & his money to Houston, we need to save the Astrodome. It is a structure with a great history. It is still the largest single clear span structure of it's kind in the world. It was the first domed structure in the US. Known world wide as the 8th wonder of the world. A 17 story building could sit on the floor & not reach the top. It has withstood 5 hurricanes with little damage. Where would Katrina folks have been without it. So many great events & entertainers performed in it, it would amaze all if they only knew. Everyone from Elvis to current entertainers performed there. So many great sporting events were held there it's amazing. Now the johnny come lately bunch with no clue of it's significance want to tear it down. HELP SAVE THE DOME!!!

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1 reply
kcarthey sueolds29 May 12 2014 at 7:27 PM

I'd truly love to see the Dome saved. If the Romans can do it for the Colluseum (sp) the blow hard Texans should certainly be able to do it for the Dome. So many great memories of that place.

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jfusco316 May 12 2014 at 2:41 PM

Wow Something by the Fed. Govt. was completed on time and within budget. Who was the Construction Manager they should use them more often.

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1 reply
frozenbull jfusco316 May 12 2014 at 4:37 PM

The Harry Reid Construction Company .

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Jeremiah May 12 2014 at 2:09 PM

Where was George Soros and his billions?

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amikebec May 12 2014 at 2:01 PM

Well, guess what, Yes the monuments mean a lot to the American people and so does the constitution in its original form along with our freedoms....

Anyway, Thank You David for helping restore one of our national symbols... too bad congress doesn't care enough to keep these treasures up....!!!

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1 reply
hanlon1212 amikebec May 12 2014 at 2:43 PM

CONgress is too busy selling Benghazi merchandise .

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liondog96 May 12 2014 at 1:51 PM

I'm offended by this sex object.

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3 replies
ck89231 May 12 2014 at 1:12 PM

I'd been to the top of it twice; once was in the spring of 1968 and the other time was over the summer of 1972. When I was at the top both times, I took slides of views from up there as I'd taken the elevator both times. Also on the latter trip in 1972, it was just past when Hurricaine Agnes had been hammering the east coast with a lot of flooing rains as some of my own slides as well as ones taken my my late Dad show the flooding between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in the reflecting pool between them. In 1972 as well, we (my late Dad, my Mom and I) had to postpone going to Mount Vernon and other national historical venues in Virginia until the floods had subsided since many roads were impsssable due to those floods.

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CalamityBabs May 12 2014 at 1:02 PM

Proof that some millionairs can be quite stupid. Their money could have better spent elsewhere. Why bother repairing this piece of **** 'monument'? If it was a statue to Pres. Washington is one thing but this marble waste of space just is a tribute to freemasonry and the illuminati. So tear it down and make coffee tables out of the marble since it was cracked.

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2 replies
Carol CalamityBabs May 12 2014 at 1:17 PM

CalamityBabs--good name for you. You are the one who should be torn down because you are cracked. If you have such intense hatered of this country and it momuments, as you apparently do, please leave. Don't let the Statue of Liberty smack you in the a$$ on your way out. Oh, and in case you did not know, which would not be a surprise, given you apparent distaste of the US and its history, Washington, along with 13 other of this nations presidents, were Freemasons. So, please, take you POS attitude and go away.

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1 reply
richsglobal Carol May 12 2014 at 1:39 PM

Ya, As Skynard Sings "If you don't like it, get the HELL OUT !!!!!"

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debij CalamityBabs May 12 2014 at 1:47 PM

You're the stupid one. This person made a gift to the people of the US. As a gift giver, he's entitled to choose where he wants to give his gift and how it's to be used. By him giving half the cost of the monument, it allows our government to spend more money on other things. I'm sure he wasn't the only person to gift money to this project, and his encouragement to other people who have money to donate to do so for patriotic reasons is commendable. What's NOT commendable are comments like yours that are even more stupid than you think his are. The "Illuminati" is a term used in a conspiracy theory that is based in lies, inuendo, and misinformation: the Illuminati do not exist in real life - just in the movies and books.

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wstarhopper May 12 2014 at 12:47 PM

Thank you Mr Rubenstein

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