In Search of Sanity
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local...8a78-8fe50322a72c_story.html?tid=pm_local_popBy Michael E. Ruane, Published: May 10 E-mail the writer
The cracks have been repaired. The stone has been patched. The elevator is fixed.
The 500 tons of scaffolding have been down for weeks, and the lawn is freshly mowed.
On Monday, 994 days since an earthquake shook the Washington Monument from top to bottom, the marble-and-granite national landmark reopens to the public . . . .
The repair project came after the 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the East Coast on Aug. 23, 2011, whipsawing the monument, shaking stone loose from the surface, and opening cracks so wide that light shined through.
Debris tumbled from the exterior and interior of the 555-foot-tall (169.294 M) obelisk, damaging the internal elevator and leaving cracks and gouges in the outside stone . . . .
The repair project required, among other things, inspectors to lower themselves on ropes from the monument’s top to conduct up-close, and hair-raising, examinations of the damaged stone on each face of the structure.
It required 2.7 miles of new sealant between stones, and 53 stainless steel “saddle anchors” to bolt in place slabs on the monument’s slanted pyramidion in case of another earthquake.
The slabs had been held in place mainly by gravity, and engineers worried that the slabs could fall off . . . .
The repair bill was an estimated $15 million. But that was cut in half when local businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein announced that he would chip in $7.5 million. The government paid the rest . . . .
In addition to the earthquake damage, the monument, which was begun in 1848 and finished in 1884, had seen more than a century of rain, snow, sleet and wind. Up close, it was a patchwork of repairs going back decades.
Cracks needed to be filled. Loose hunks of marble had to be dug out and replaced with scores of individual patches called “dutchmen.” Joints had to be smoothed and cleaned. Most of the damage was near the top.
Officials have said 150 dutchman patches were used, so many that work crews ran out of spare marble they had on hand for repairs.
But a company was found that had salvaged old marble steps from homes in Baltimore. And that marble had come from the same quarry as some of the monument marble.
Normally entered by about 600,000 visitors a year, the monument honors George Washington, Revolutionary War hero and the nation’s first president.
The monument, one of the tallest free-standing masonry structures in the world, is also perhaps the most recognized of American structures.
The cornerstone was laid July 4, 1848, at a ceremony attended by then-President James K. Polk, and then-congressman Abraham Lincoln. Work halted from 1858 to 1878 because of a lack of funds.
In December 1884, a 3,300 pound marble capstone was placed atop the monument and capped with a pyramid of aluminum.
The following Feb. 21, on a sunny, frigid day, the monument was dedicated.
Among those in attendance was Secretary of War Robert Lincoln, son of the assassinated chief executive who had been present nearly 37 years before.
Both images: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_monument