Thursday, September 1, 2011


I was surprised how sadly moved I was that the recent earthquake caused cracks in the Washington Monument (1st image, more photos here). Although I lived in the Washington, D.C., area from 1986 to 2009, I have never been inside the landmark (which is now closed temporarily), but had seen it up close, on the horizon, and from the air more times than I can count. I realized in the middle of the night that I had never seen photographs that I knew to be taken from the top of the obelisk, so I sought them out this morning:

To the north (2nd image): The Ellipse and the White House
To the east (
3rd image): The Smithsonian museums and the U.S. Capitol
To the south (
4th image): The Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Potomac River
To the west (
5th image): The National World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, and the Lincoln Memorial
Click on the image for the source, see map here for more landmarks.

Contrary to rumors, the 5.8-magnitude earthquake on August 23rd did not cause the 555' Washington Monument to lean, but did result in a 1"-wide crack that measures 4' long in the pyramidion on the west side. Bits of mortar fell to the floor on the observation level stairs and floor, and one of the stone blocks in the interior was dislodged. Officials temporarily repaired the damage, and found that 4 of the external white marble blocks had cracks. They were concerned after Hurricane Irene last weekend, however, that more rain than usual had leaked into the monument above the 400' level. According to the Washington Post, "Park Service officials are awaiting a report from an engineering firm to determine how and when permanent repairs will be made. Engineers have told them that the monument is structurally sound, and it is possible the site could reopen even as repairs are made." So all is not lost, least of all one of the most popular tourist draws.

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