The 126-year-old Washington Monument — the focal point of the D.C. skyline — has remained closed ever since sustaining cracks from a rare 5.8 earthquake that rocked the D.C. Metro area late August. Now, according to a report in the Washington Times, The National Park Service (NPS) will keep the monument closed to the public for an indefinite period of time as engineers work to complete their exterior survey of the structure.
Noting the disappointment many feel over the delay, National Mall Superintendant Bob Vogel said “our primary goal is expediting the reopening of the monument to the public.” That task might prove all the more challenging, however, given that the cracks in the monument also allowed heavy rains from Hurricane Irene to penetrate the structure.
The Times adds:
The park service on Monday also released three videos taken during the earthquake at the monument’s 500-foot observation level. The videos show the monument shaking noticeably, as debris falls from above and people scramble for stairwells.
With its Egyptian obelisk-like shape, the monument is one of the most easily recognizable structures in the D.C. skyline and has continued to draw visitors to its grounds despite its closure. The park service erected a 100-foot-radius fence to prevent any falling debris from injuring visitors.
It stands to reason NPS plans to work diligently to restore the symbolic structure but it is still too soon to assess the extent of the structural damage or how long it will take engineers to complete the task.
New, dramatic footage shows people rushing down the stairs of the monument just as the earthquake hit: