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$10 Million Facelift to Washington Monument Unveiled TodayAired July 3, 2000 - 2:09 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The results of a $10 million facelift to one of America's best-known monument being unveiled today. The Washington Monument won't officially reopen to the public until the end of the month.
CNN's Carl Rochelle joins us now with more on the VIPs, including himself, who are getting a sneak peek at this restoration.
Carl, good afternoon.
CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Lou. But not VIP, just working press going in doing my job, man.
But anyway, we did get to go up and see the inside of the Washington Monument. Let's look at the outside of it a little bit. What they did is they repointed it, sort of shined up and polished it. They replaced some of the cement between the joints of where these big stones lay. They brought in some new stone work, they replaced some of the area that was cracked and pitted and damaged. That's what they did to the outside.
They worked on the electrical system inside and brought it up to state apart and up to code. They worked on the air conditioning and the heating system inside, cleaned it all up, and then they held this morning what's known as a "celebration of the restoration" -- not an opening, but a celebration of the restoration. And Bruce Babbitt, the interior secretary, was here and talked about what this all means, this money, to the Americans.
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BRUCE BABBITT, INTERIOR SECRETARY: It's where Americans have come for generations to reflect on who we are and the extraordinary history that has converged to make our nation and to think of the generations that will continue to come here to find and reflect upon our common experience as Americans. And, of course, we honor that experience and we honor this place by taking care of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHELLE: Now, the interior is not open to the public yet, but I took a CNN camera inside, and the camera crew, and we went all the way up to the top. That's the 500-foot level. Went up in the old elevator. The new one is not installed yet, the one that will have glass doors on it. It will be this winter before that is in there.
On the top level, still a lot of work going on, but you can take a look out the windows, down the Mall and see the nation's capital, down the Mall in that area, and it's quite an attractive viewpoint. When it's all opened, you can see, of course, the 360-degree panorama. Coming down in the elevator, we walked down to the 490-foot level, saw the work that was done there. Again, closed for construction purposes, you don't go all the way down.
And then at the 140-foot level, the Park Service stopped the elevator, opened the doors, and we could see some of the 193 memorial stones that are running inside the wall from the top to the bottom of this museum, of the museum inside the Washington Monument. These were all dedicated and given by different states, by different countries and certain organizations within the United States, all, and they will be open to the public to see.
Eight-hundred-ninety-seven steps, Lou, if you care to try them at some particular time. The general public can't do it, but the rangers will give tours of that when it opens.
By the way, the opening date is July 31, the 31st of this month, before the public can go inside.
I'm Carl Rochelle, CNN, reporting live from the Washington Monument.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Carl. Lou wants to run up those steps to the top.
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