WASHINGTON (WCMH) — One of our nation’s most iconic sites is back open for business.
The Washington Monument is again welcoming visitors after a multi-million dollar renovation.
First Lady Melania Trump cut the ribbon on the monument, surrounded by local DC school children.
“The First Lady just greeted all of them individually and asked their names, and then got a couple high fives and a bunch of hugs,” said Dan Smith with the National Parks Service.
By the afternoon, tourists finally got their long-overdue visit. Patti Gilchrist from New York and her friend Mary Gidel from Iowa were in line at 7 a.m.
“We took pictures so we wouldn’t forget it,” said Gilchrist. “I was a little nervous going up in it with her, but she talked me into it and I loved it.”
The monument closed in 2011 after an earthquake. It opened again in 2014, only to close again in 2016 when the elevator broke.
“So, what we have now is a state of the art elevator to go up and down, at the same time we constructed this new visitor screening facility,” said Mike Litterst with the National Parks Serice.
In all, the project cost $15 million, much of which was covered by a private donor.
The 550 foot monument stands as one of Washington’s most iconic sites. Now, visitors can experience it from the inside, again.
Park service officials expect the reopened monument to bring in around 500,000 visitors each year.