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The View From the Top: Washington Monument Reopens After 3-Year-Closure

Here's info on how to get tickets and what you can see from the top

What to Know

  • The Washington Monument reopened Thursday morning after three years of work on its elevator and security systems.
  • Security is higher. Visitors will now pass through two huge, vault-like doors.
  • First lady Melania Trump attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was joined by elementary school students from Southwest D.C.

For the first time in three years, you can go to the top of the Washington Monument and see panoramic views of the Capitol, all the monuments and everything in between. 

The Washington Monument reopened to the public Thursday, following $15 million repairs on its elevator and security systems.

First lady Melania Trump attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was greeted by excited fourth-graders from Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Southwest D.C. 

Visitors started lining up at 3:30 a.m. to get inside. 

"I'm here to see the city. This is the best place to see it from," a man visiting from Kansas said. 

News4 got a sneak peek from the top on Wednesday. The stunning view included the National Mall, White House, Capitol Building, Potomac River and planes taking off and landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The 555-foot stone obelisk closed in fall 2016 in order to replace the aging elevator and upgrade security systems. The elevator broke down several times over the past decade, including one incident in which more than 40 people were trapped at the top.

Visitors will now pass through two vault-like doors to get toward the elevator. Then, they'll go up 500 feet in 60 seconds to get to the top observation platform.

"In my 22 years working, this is the smoothest-running elevator we've ever had," Sean Kennealy, the professional services chief for the Park Service, said.

The experience isn't over once you've finished taking in the views. On the way down, the elevator slows to give you a chance to see the stones of the monument from the inside.

Once you get off the elevator, check out graffiti carved into the stone by a Civil War soldier.

Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein donated $3 million for elevator modernization project.

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.

How to Get Tickets
From Thursday through Oct. 18, same-day free tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis starting at 8:30 a.m. To get tickets, go to the Washington Monument Lodge starting at 8:30 a.m. It's located just east of the monument (Psst: That's in the direction of the Capitol Building).

The monument will be open late through the end of September, with 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours. This offers a rare opportunity to see sunset from the top of the monument. 

Beginning in October, the monument will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Starting Oct. 10, tickets for Oct. 19 and after can be reserved at recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. There will be a "nominal" processing fee, the Park Service says. Same-day free tickets will still be available on a first come, first served basis.

Other Things Visitors Should Know
There are no bathrooms, water or food inside the monument.

"Visitors who are uncomfortable with heights, enclosed spaces, crowding, and elevators should consider that the Washington Monument involves all these factors," the Park Service warns.

The list of restricted items includes pets, large bags and strollers. Go here to see a full list.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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