The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. has always been a favorite for student travel groups heading to the D.C. area. The obelisk has graced the nation’s capital since the 19th Century – until it was struck by an earthquake on August 22, 2011. Although people were inside and falling debris and stone did affect some visitors, thankfully no staff or tourists were seriously injured or died while visiting the Monument that day.
The Earthquake of August 2011 Damaged Washington Monument
The Washington Monument sustained a great deal of damage from the earthquake. The quake was nearly a 6 on the Richter Scale, with an epicenter 90 miles southwest of D.C., in Virginia. Damages included “cracks, spalls and displacements of stones and joints throughout the building,” according the National Park Service website. The Washington Monument had to be closed to visitors in the interest of public safety.
Repair to the Washington Monument has taken nearly three years of labor to aright this structure and make it suitable for visitation. Stones with fissures had to be repaired one by one, and laborers logged over one thousand days of work on the structure.
The Washington Monument re-opened May 12, 2014 with a public ceremony, just in time for the late spring and summer travel season. Trip leaders taking student tours to Washington D.C. may now add a visit to the Washington Monument to their itinerary.
Short History of the Washington Monument
Built to honor the memory of George Washington, first president, this monument was constructed in two phases: 1848-1854 and 1876-1884. The architect was Robert Mills – and his vision was to place the enormous monument (which would be the tallest in the world at that time) in the center of the green with nothing overshadowing it. Though he originally planned on a 600-foot structure, the actual height was 555 feet, 5.125 inches. It remained the tallest building until the Eiffel Tower overshadowed it.
Lt. Col. Casey supervised the latter stages of construction and he revised the height of the structure so the foundational base was strong enough to support it. It is created from the stones of three different quarries: two in Baltimore and one in Massachusetts. Different color stones are noticeable on the Monument. The Army Corps of Engineers completed construction on December 6, 1884 and the Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, during James J. Polk’s presidency.
Student Travelers Can Tour the Washington Monument Again
New exhibits have opened at the Washington Monument, with more opportunities for learning than ever before. For guided student group tours, teachers and trip leaders are best advised to book tickets well in advance with the assistance of a qualified student travel company. On tour, a ranger will discuss some historical facts for groups as they take the elevator up. Then they will spend some time on the observation deck for a few minutes and descend to the 490’ foot level to view the exhibits. Students re-board the elevator at the 490’ level and while the elevator takes them back down, the ranger will once again point out details about the Monument’s construction and history.
For any student of American history, a visit to Washington D.C. and the Washington Monument is a must. Students learn more about George Washington and one of the most awe-inspiring monuments constructed in the world. Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com to find out more about student trips to Washington D.C.