The Washington Monument sheds its final layer of scaffolding later this week in preparation for the monument's May 12 re-opening.
Repairing the 150 cracks caused by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked D.C. in August 2011 shut down the monument to visitors for 32 months. It is now in the final stages of the $15 million restoration.
“We are delighted to be in the homestretch with the repairs to the Washington Monument almost complete, and we look forward to the re-opening on May 12 so we can once again welcome visitors to this iconic monument to our nation’s first President,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a statement.
Because of the nearly three-year closure, the NPS plans to begin extended operating hours on May 12. The monument will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the end of summer.
The NPS and the Trust for the National Mall will host a re-opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 12, and the first tour will kick off at 1 p.m. Those who want to be a part of the opening day tours should plan to come early. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 a.m. that day at the Washington Monument Lodge, located on 15th Street between Madison and Jefferson drives.
Tickets for May 13 and all future dates will be available online, starting on April 16 at 10 a.m.
Jarvis thanked philanthropist David Rubenstein for his $7.5 million donation, made via the trust, which funded half of the repair bill. Rubenstein's support "sets a high standard for park philanthropy nationwide and is appreciated by every visitor who will learn something about President Washington or simply enjoy the view from the top,” Jarvis said.