Washington Monument still Closed to the Public and Student Travel Groups

by Howard Clemens

The Washington Monument is a popular student travel destination.

The Washington Monument, a popular student travel destination, is still closed for repairs as of February 2013, and the National Park Service is predicting that it may remain closed until 2014.

The Washington Monument was damaged when a rare earthquake struck the East Coast August 23, 2011. Though the impact of the quake was comparatively slight, it was enough to significantly afflict the 555 feet structure. Hurricane Irene, which made landfall later that year, did further damage, particularly to the top of the pyramid-shaped landmark. The elevator system inside the structure was also compromised, though it has since been repaired.  Over the last several years, nature has certainly taken its toll on this historic Washington D.C. monument.

Completed in 1885 and opened to the public in 1888, the Washington Monument is the tallest stone-and-obelisk structure in the world. Located near the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool, it is one of the world’s most sought-after tourist destinations. Countless student trips have visited the inside of the structure and enjoyed the epic views from its observation windows. The White House, the US Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, the Potomac River, the Smithsonian Museum, and many other famous attractions are all viewable from the monument’s observation areas.

The structure may or may not still be visible during its repair process. The popularity of student tours of Washington D.C. hasn’t declined since the attraction closed, and there is a wealth of other things for student groups to do and see in Washington.

Washington Monument can still be Incorporated into Student Travel Trips

Though students will not have access to the Monument, teachers can use the Web as an excellent tool to prepare students prior to trips. Narrated, virtual tours of the Washington Monument are available online, via YouTube.com and various educational websites, which teachers can use to pique students’ interest in exploring Washington D.C. Washington’s walking tours (like those conducted by organizations like DC By Foot , Washington Walks, Walk of the Town, and numerous others) are as popular as ever, and most feature comprehensive information and/or mini-lectures about the Monument and its history.

Most student trips incorporate a visit to many different famous DC monuments through a monuments tour (which may include the Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Korean, Vietnam, and World War II Memorials). A monument tour is a wonderful way for students to get their fill of D.C. history and learn more about the many monuments in Washington D.C. Groups can also visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian Museums, Ford’s Theater, the National Archives, and the Botanical Gardens (which are in bloom year-round).  And there are many historical districts to take in, like the Dupont Circle Historic District, the 16th Street Historical District, the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District, and the nightlife of bustling Georgetown. In springtime, a stroll through Washington D.C. means enjoying the famous cherry trees – a major attraction for student tour groups.

Washington D.C. also offers a number of cruises, which offer students a particularly unique and exciting way to see the city. The Cherry Blossom Cruises, for example, are a beautiful alternate way for students to take in DC’s scenery, and its monuments.  Student groups can also take a narrated, 45-minute long Monument Cruise, which boards every hour on the half hour and offers spectacular “boat’s eye views” of a full range of Washington D.C. landmarks, including the Washington Monument.

The DC cruise website has a section specifically for student travel groups. Some of the cruises offer lunch or dinner, so teachers can plan the trip around whatever they think would be most exciting and informative for their group.

Since the Washington monument is under construction, its status is subject to change, and updates can be found on the “For Teachers” section of the National Park Service’s website. By checking these and other resources and working with student travel coordinators, teachers can put together an unforgettable, definitive DC experience for students.

On-site Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Still Closed to Student Groups Visiting New York City

by Howard Clemens

The Statue of Liberty is a popular student travel destination in NYC. It has been closed since Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012 but will reopen later in 2013.

Post Hurricane Sandy damage does have an affect on student groups, because as of February 2013, the Statue of Liberty, a major NYC student travel destination, is still closed.  But student tour groups can still experience an awe-inspiring view of Lady Liberty by taking a scenic and exciting cruise around it. The famous landmark, located on its very own 12 acre mini piece of land known as Liberty Island, was flooded out—though fortunately not damaged—when Hurricane Sandy hit it last October.

Hurricane Sandy put nearly 75 percent of Liberty Island underwater. The island is still without power, but generators are being used to light the statue, so students will still be able to appreciate the wonder of seeing it lit up at night. The Statue of Liberty was undergoing renovation and had reopened to the public on October 28 of last year—her 125th anniversary—only to be closed again the following day when the hurricane hit.

Ellis Island has also been closed since Hurricane Sandy struck in late October 2012.

Student Travel Leaders, Alternatives for Trips to NYC Include Boat Tours

Historical Ellis Island, located in nearby Jersey City, NJ, is also still closed to visitors. The Island was almost completely submerged during the storm, and is still in the process of being cleared of debris and restored to normal, but students will still be able to see it by cruising around it. There are many Harbor tour companies in the NYC area that go all over Manhattan Island, some of which, like City Sights New York, feature dinner or brunch. Circle Line Sightseeing Tours offers day or night cruises ranging from three hours to 75 minutes. It’s easy to make a day or night-out of the expedition, depending on the particular teacher’s objectives and the student travel group’s schedule. One of the area’s most popular cruises is the Statue of Liberty Harbor Cruise, which departs 14 times a day on the half hour. As the historical entry point for millions of immigrants, Ellis Island is an important site for any student tour of NYC to include.  Staten Island, another popular student travel destination, is accessible, though parts of it are still undergoing relief efforts.

Student Tours to NYC Offer Many Options Despite Closings

No teacher or student travel group leader should have to feel that their students are going to be compromised by the closures or that their students are going to miss out on one of the highlights of a student tour of New York City.  There are still a multitude of cultural sites for students to see in the city. Some of the most popular ones include the Broadway theater district and Times Square, the United Nations, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Students can also visit Greenwich Village, Chinatown, and Little Italy to immerse themselves in the kinds of hands-on, authentic cultural experiences that only the Big Apple can offer.

Post Sandy Experience of NYC Landmarks Affords Antique Historical Perspective for Students

It should also be remembered that post-Hurricane Sandy boat tours around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can provide students a unique historical perspective, as closures of this sort are obviously rare. Combining a cruise around the sites with visits to other important NYC landmarks can be an enlightening way for students to try to put contemporary events and challenges into perspective, especially surrounding issues of diversity and immigration.  Visiting Ellis Island and seeing the Statue of Liberty by boat is a reminder that these issues must be incorporated into studies in ways that will enrich their understanding of the times they live in. Hurricane Sandy is also a pivotal point in NYC history, so such perspectives have value as a regional examination, as well.

There is a tentative reopening date of October 2013 for both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Student travel organizers can keep abreast of developments by visiting the official National Park Service website, or visiting their Twitter page.

For more information about student trips to NYC, request a quote online.