Another Issue With Washington Monument Elevator: Doors Wouldn't Close

The doors of the Washington Monument elevator malfunctioned Tuesday

The Washington Monument elevator had a door malfunction Tuesday, another issue in a string of breakdowns since the monument's reopening in May.

The elevator's doors wouldn't close properly as visitors waited at the top of the monument, according to National Park Service spokesperson Carol Johnson. Technicians were able to fix the doors and get visitors back to the ground level using the elevator.

Issues with the elevator began just two days after the Washington Monument celebrated its reopening on the National Mall. The monument was closed for nearly three years after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the D.C. area, leaving hundreds of cracks in the monument's façade and damaging its elevator.

There have been several reported shutdowns, which have at times forced visitors to walk down the monument's 897 steps, and in at least one case, stranded visitors inside the elevator.

  • The first breakdown for the public was on May 14. The elevator doors malfunctioned about 20 feet above the ground floor, stranding 18 people inside. About 60 people were on the observation level 500 feet up, and walked down the hundreds of stairs.
  • On May 19, a computer indicated that the elevator needed repair. A crew arrived on site early the following day, but the work postponed the morning's opening by about an hour, frustrating some people with timed tickets.
  • According to the NPS memo, another shutdown occurred when construction materials were blocking the elevator's sensors. Simply moving the materials solved that problem.
  • A shutdown on the night of May 21 was caused by an elevator key that was turned halfway between operating mode and inspector mode.
  • The elevator broke down one afternoon over Memorial Day weekend leaving visitors to wait at the top for about half an hour.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has suggested that the simple wear and tear may be behind these issues for an elevator that typically runs about 13 hours a day.

"Too many glitches should warn us we need a new elevator altogether," she said.


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The NPS has said it doesn't think the elevator needs to be replaced and Johnson acknowledged in late May that there is no single source for the ongoing problems.

"Obviously there are issues that we're looking into, and we're trying to remedy all of them," she said.

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