The Washington Monument Reopened Today With a Speedy Elevator

You can start booking tours online this October

Washington Monument Reopens
By Tanner Garrity / September 20, 2019 3:28 pm

I went to college in Washington, DC, and can distinctly remember the strange shell that encased the Washington Monument the first year I lived down there. The scaffolding surrounded the obelisk during restoration efforts in 2013 — the exterior had been damaged during a minor earthquake in 2011 — and to be honest, it was kind of beautiful.

But that construction also kept guests from exploring the interior of the structure. And its reopening in 2014 only lasted two years, until it was time to give the monument a broad-scale renovation, meant to primarily bolster security and visitor flow. Well, that project is finally over, and the Washington Monument is again (hopefully firmly, this time) open to the public.

The three-year renovation, which was funded in part by the charity of Bethesda philanthropist David Rubenstein, produced a lightning-speed elevator that cruises to the site’s 555-foot height in just one minute. (The alternative used to be trudging up 900 steps, or trusting the old elevator, which was prone to inexplicable stoppages.) Plus, there’s now a fortified security lobby built with blast-proof steel.

To reserve your spot for a tour, we recommend bookmarking the monument’s page on Recreation.gov. Online bookings go live October 10th, but if you’re in the area and looking for same-day tickets, it’s possible to nab ’em. Just get up and on line (on 15th Street) around 6 a.m.

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