Washington Monument To Reopen May 12

The Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington DC is due to reopen on May 12 following repairs to earthquake damage, the National Park Service has announced.

The 555-foot obelisk honoring America's first president suffered significant damage on August 23, 2011 when a 5.8 magnitude trembler shook the area. Some of the exterior marble and supporting ribs cracked and joint mortar was shaken loose, making the monument vulnerable to rain penetration.

The Washington Monument is part of the National Park Service's National Mall and Memorial Parks. The bird's eye views of the capital from its observation deck make it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the U.S., drawing about 700,000 visitors a year.

The monument was completed in 1884. It was the world's tallest structure until the Eiffel Tower was erected in Paris five years later.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who footed half the $15 million cost of reconstruction, will attend a ceremony to mark the reopening along with NBC TV presenter Al Roker and "American Idol" winner Candice Glover.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Navy Band and the boy and girl choristers of the Washington National Cathedral Choir will also be in attendance along with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Public tours of the Washington Monument will begin at 1 pm on May 12 after the reopening ceremony.