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Washington Monument Reopens Almost 3 Years After Quake Damage

The damage to the 130-year-old, 555-foot-tall obelisk from an unusual 5.8-magnitude earthquake in 2011 has taken nearly three years of repairs that have totaled $15 million, half of which was donated by philanthropist David Rubenstein

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The Washington Monument reopened Monday after three years of repairs and restoration following damage from a 2011 earthquake.

The monument was damaged when an unusual 5.8 magnitude earthquake affecting the capital sent vibrations to the very top of the 130-year old iconic obelisk, cracking the marble and sending debris raining down on tourists. Engineers worked for 33 months to restore the 555-foot structure, the Associated Press reports.

The restoration cost $15 million, but $7.5 million was donated by philanthropist David Rubenstein.

“The construction of the Washington Monument began in 1848 when private citizens raised money to build a memorial to honor our nation’s first president, and now it has been repaired thanks in part to the generosity of another private citizen, David Rubenstein, and the efforts of the Trust for the National Mall,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. “This enduring spirit of public-private partnerships has made it possible for visitors to once again enjoy the Monument and its unmatched view of Washington, D.C.”

Rubenstein told the AP that the monument “symbolizes many things for our country — the freedoms, patriotism, George Washington, leadership. So it’s been moving to see how many people are affected by it.”

TIME Washington Monument

After Years of Repairs, the Washington Monument Will Reopen in May

First Day Of Spring Arrives After Extremely Harsh Winter
The Washington Monument, glimpsed on March 20—the first day of spring Alex Wong—Getty Images

The earthquake-damaged obelisk is finally back in shape

After being closed for almost three years, the Washington Monument will reopen on May 12.

The mighty obelisk has been under repair since Aug. 23, 2011, when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake caused more than 150 cracks in the structure. The last scaffolds will begin to come down this week.

David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group and a prominent philanthropist, donated half of the $15 million repair bill.

“The National Park Service (NPS) has done a spectacular job of repairing the monument, and I hope as many people as possible will soon be able to see the unique view from the top,” he said.

NPS announced on Tuesday that the reopening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on May 12, with public tours commencing three hours later.

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