The National Park Service held a press conference Monday afternoon announcing the current condition of the beloved Washington Monument, which was literally “shaken up” during the 5.8 earthquake centered in Mineral, Virginia, on August 23.
In Washington the earthquake was only measured as 3.4 on the richter scale, however, the monument suffered significant damage.
The monument’s walls, which are made of white marble, suffered substantial cracks on its higher levels. Although the cracks were initially covered, Hurricane Irene’s arrival four days later resulted in puddles inside the building, revealing many undetected cracks that had yet to be fixed.
Time is of the essence with winter approaching fast. If cracks are not covered before the cold weather sets in, they will expand and contract with temperature change, causing the monument’s composition to shift.
According to spokeswoman Carol Johnson, the leakage was a result of mortar popping out of the monument.
“Sunlight could be seen above 450 feet in the monument,” said Johnson.
Cranes were also brought in to begin the reconstruction process in hopes for reparation by the September 11 anniversary. However, crane malfunction, including one crane toppling over on September 7, prevented the monument from opening on time.
Beginning Tuesday, engineers and architects will rappel down the side of the monument, sighting damage and completing an exterior assessment.
“By mid-October, we should have a report and analyses with a more proper timeline,” Johnson told The Christian Post.
So far, repairs on the monument have cost $207,000.
“It will reopen, it’s just a matter of figuring how to get the repairs done,” said Johnson.
Various engineers spoke at the press conference Monday. They contended that the monument is in fact structurally sound; a piece of information that ultimately proves positive.
However, engineers also announced that the monument is to remain closed indefinitely as engineers are not done assessing the damage. This means a decrease in tourist income in Washington DC.
The most prominent damage to the stone creation is the four foot crack, which extends down the west side of the pyramidion, the Egyptian-oriented pyramid topping the 555 foot structure.
Engineers also reported that the monument’s elevator suffered significant damage, and has only been able to rise 250 feet since the quake.
Many theories surround the world’s tallest obelisk, post earthquake. Some Americans expected their very own leaning tower of Pisa. Others noted the symbolism of the crack on the west side of pyramidion as representing America’s failure as a capitalistic power.
The tourist destination, sitting at 91,000 tons, was created in honor of America’s first president, George Washington.
The National Cathedral also suffered significant damage due to the quake.