Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Washington Monument closes

One of my family's personal favorites -- the Washington Monument -- was damaged as a result of yesterday's earthquake; and as the Los Angeles Times reports, it has been closed indefinitely to visitors.
Now, however, visitors will have to make do with a distant look. The monument itself will remain closed indefinitely, although "the Washington Monument grounds have been reopened, except for an area about 100 feet outside of the plaza," according to a National Park Service statement posted on its website.
The extent of damage and how to repair it remain in question. "The NPS will have structural engineers evaluate the cracks on Wednesday to determine the best way to repair the Monument before it is reopened," the park service said.
The earthquake caused the temporary closure of several other memorials and monuments pending a check for damage and to ensure visitor safety. Among those that were closed and have since reopened to the public: the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and the Old Post Office Tower.
The quake also damaged the National Cathedral, although it remains structurally sound. Several spires and decorative elements on the architecturally significant edifice were either damaged or snapped off. Authorities are examining the building to determine how repairs should proceed.
The Christian Science Monitor adds that various federal agencies also are closed at least for one day.
The White House, the Capitol, and most Smithsonian museums are open for tourists. However, several federal departments are closed Wednesday as a result of quake-related damages. Headquarters for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Interior are all closed to allow for inspection for structural damage. Also shuttered are headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Endowment for the Arts. Federal workers have the option of taking unscheduled leave or working online from home.
For those trying to get out of town, Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport are open for business and running normally, reports the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority.

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