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Melania Trump Cuts Ribbon Reopening Washington Monument After 3-Year Closure for Repairs

09-19-2019
First Lady Melania Trump joined by a group of fourth-graders cut the ceremonial ribbon reopening the Washington Monument on Sept. 19, 2019. (Image credit: CBN News)
First Lady Melania Trump joined by a group of fourth-graders cut the ceremonial ribbon reopening the Washington Monument on Sept. 19, 2019. (Image credit: CBN News)

After being closed for the past three years, the Washington Monument is once again open to the public.

The monument closed back in 2016 to replace the aging elevator and upgrade security systems.

On Thursday, First Lady Melania Trump joined a group of fourth-graders to officially cut the ribbon and re-open the 555-foot structure. 

The updates include some security measures and an easier way to get to the top of the 131-year-old landmark. 

"What's new at the monument, we think of most importance, is the fact that the elevator is now far more reliable than it was when it forced our closure in 2016," said National Park Service Spokesman Mike Litterst. "We have redesigned the operating system. We replaced all the major mechanical parts. So, instead of having to have closures related to elevator two, sometimes three times a week, we look forward to the opening tomorrow and moving forward for the foreseeable future without any issues."

The monument has been closed for most of the past eight years. An August 2011 earthquake left cracks in the stones near the top of the obelisk. It reopened in 2014, but Park Service officials were forced to close it again two years later after a series of elevator malfunctions.

Construction on the monument began in 1848 and took nearly 40 years to complete. The private organization that was running the project ran out of funding and construction was halted in 1854 at around 150 feet; that delay was exacerbated by the Civil War.

Construction resumed in 1879, but builders were forced to use stone from a different quarry — giving the obelisk its distinctive two-tone color.

At the time of its completion, it was the tallest building in the world but was soon overtaken by the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

It remains the tallest building in Washington and, when open, averages about 500,000 visitors per year.

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