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Washington's monumental makeover

Washington Monument
Before the closing, the monument averaged 3,000 visitors a day  

Landmark closed for repairs, to reopen in 4 months

January 12, 1998
Web posted at: 11:54 a.m. EST (1654 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Workers on Monday began the Washington Monument makeover, a $9.4 million restoration project that will keep one of the nation's most popular tourist attractions closed to visitors for the next four months.

On Sunday, people lucky enough to have tickets for the final tours got the last glimpses from the top of the 555-foot obelisk.

Kathleen Koch reports on tourists at the Washington Monument
icon 2 min. VXtreme video
CNN's Bruce Morton on the history of the Washington Monument
icon 2 min. VXtreme video

Work to be done on the interior of the 110-year-old landmark while it's closed includes:

  • A thorough cleaning.
  • Replacing the elevator, installed in 1959.
  • Installing new heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
  • Patching and sealing cracks.
  • Restoring the 193 commemorative stones that line the 897 stairs to the top.
NPS closed
National Park Service rangers closed the park for restoration Sunday at sunset  

Although the Washington Monument will reopen to tourists in late spring, the work won't be over. Beginning this summer, the structure it will be wrapped in scaffolding for another two years while marble blocks held in place with cement are cleaned and repaired.

This is the longest period the tourist site has excluded visitors since it opened in 1888. Once the restoration work is finished, plans call for the Washington Monument to be rededicated on July 4, 2000.

Correspondents Kathleen Koch and Bruce Morton contributed to this report.


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