The Washington Monument reopens to the public today for the first time since an earthquake closed it in 2011. Completed in 1884, it was created as a show of gratitude to George Washington, whom many call the country's most essential Founding Father. Here's a look back at its history:
This sketch shows the proposed Washington Monument by architect Robert Mills circa 1836.
The cornerstone for the monument was laid in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 1848, before 20,000 people. The monument is seen here under construction in 1860.
In 1884, the capstone was set, bringing construction on the memorial to an end after more than 30 years.
The newly-completed Washington Monument was dedicated in Washington, D.C., in 1885. At 555 feet, 5 1/8 inches tall, it became the world's tallest structure, towering over Germany's Cologne Cathedral.
The monument officially opened to the public in 1888 and was a major tourist drawing, attracting 80,000 visitors.
The monument is home to 193 commemorative stones in its stairwell. This stone was donated in 1853 by the Utah Territory, to represent the provisional State of Deseret.
There are four inscriptions on each side of the monument's aluminum tip. The east side reads: "Laus deo," which means "Praise be to God." The west side is a history of its construction, while the north side lists commission members at the time of the capstone setting and the south side recognizes the artchitect and engineers.
In the early 1900s, unsightly material started oozing out between the outer stones of the first construction period below the 150-foot mark. Tourists referred to it as "geological tuberculosis," which was caused by the weathering of the cement and rubble filler between the outer and inner walls.
The National Park Service was given jurisdiction over the Washington Monument in 1933, and the first restoration of the structure began as a Depression Era public works project in 1934.
The monument stands due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. Today, it sees more than 800,000 visitors each year.
For 10 hours in December 1982, the Washington Monument and eight tourists were held hostage by nuclear arms protester Norman Mayer, who claimed to have explosives in a van he drove to the monument's base. He was eventually shot and killed by U.S. Park Police.
The monument underwent an extensive restoration project between 1998 and 2001. In September 2011, a temporary visitor security screening center was added to the east entrance of the Washington Monument in the wake of 9/11.
On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8 earthquake occurred in Mineral, Va., with the quake felt as far north as Ontario and as far south as Atlanta, Ga. The resulting damage, including that done to buildings and monuments in Washington, D.C., is estimated at between $200 million and $300 million. Pictured are workers inspecting the outside of the Washington Monument, which was closed indefinitely after being damaged in the earthquake.
A $15 million restoration project was launched to repair more than 150 cracks in the structure. It will now be open for extended operating hours, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., through the end of summer.
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