4-Foot Crack Found in Washington Monument

Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011  |  Updated 9:05 PM EDT
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Two of DC's most beloved landmarks are closed after Tuesday's quake. Right now, visitors are banned from the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral as structural engineers inspect the damage.

Elaine Reyes

Two of DC's most beloved landmarks are closed after Tuesday's quake. Right now, visitors are banned from the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral as structural engineers inspect the damage.

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Damage to Washington Monument Following Quake

An aerial inspection of the Washington Monument found a 4-inch crack following Tuesday's earthquake.
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Cracking was found in the stones at the top of the Washington Monument Tuesday evening, the National Park Service reported.

The crack was located in one of the triangular faces at the top of the monument.  It runs at an angle, and measures approximately 4-feet long and an inch wide, NPS spokesperson Bill Line said.

The cracking in the Monument was discovered during a secondary inspection, conducted by a helicopter crew Tuesday evening. Engineers on Wednesday morning were working to determine the severity of the damage.

"An outside engineering team will take whatever amount of time they need," Line said. "They are going to do a structural analysis of the crack."

Although the grounds near the Monument reopened on Tuesday, the interior is closed to visitor until further notice.  Authorities put up a fence creating a 150-foot perimeter at the Monument's base.

NPS is confident the Monument will reopen, but it is too early to give an estimate, Line said. He emphasized customer safety.

The National Park Service also temporarily closed the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and the Old Post Office Tower as a precaution following Tuesday’s earthquake.  The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials reopened at about 7:20 p.m.  The Old Post Office Tower opened at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The NPS on Tuesday strongly rejected a rumor circulating online that the earthquake had caused the Washington Monument to lean.

"Absolutely incorrect," U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said of media reports.  "It stands tall and proud."

The NPS said a preliminary inspection of the Washington Monument had found it to be structurally sound.

The monuments and memorials on the National Mall were evacuated following the earthquake before 2 p.m. Tuesday. No injuries to any visitors were reported.

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