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Washington Monument reopens after 3-year closure for repairs

Ashraf Khalil
Associated Press

Washington – After a three-year closure, the Washington Monument is reopening to the public.

The Washington Monument is seen past a sign greeting visitors during a press preview tour ahead of the monument's official reopening, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Washington. The monument, which has been closed to the public since August 2016, is scheduled to re-open Thursday, Sept. 19.

The 555-foot stone obelisk closed in September 2016 in order to replace the aging elevator and upgrade security systems. The monument will reopen to the public at noon on Thursday and first lady Melania Trump is expected to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

National Parks Service park rangers gather outside a new security screening building at the foot of the Washington Monument during a preview tour ahead of the monument's official reopening.
National Parks Service park rangers gather near glass panels that provide a view of interior sections of the Washington Monument's observation level during a press preview tour  Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

The monument has been closed for most of the past eight years. An August 2011 earthquake left cracks in the stones near the top of the obelisk. It reopened in 2014 but National Park Service officials were forced to close it again two years later after a series of elevator breakdowns.

The monument, which was completed in 1884 and remains the tallest building in Washington, averages about 500,000 visitors per year.

Visitors look out from the observation level inside the Washington Monument during a press preview tour ahead of the monument's official reopening, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Washington.
A visitor looks out toward the U.S. Capitol from the Washington Monument's observation level Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.