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Washington Monument reopens after $10 million facelift

The Washington Monument reopened Monday after a three-year restoration  
 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Visitors get their first close-up look at the Washington Monument's $10 million facelift Monday as it reopens after a three-year restoration.

"It's opening up to the people to come and see what's been done to preserve their Washington Monument," said Bobbie Donaldson, chief of visitor services.

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CNN National Correspondent Martin Savidge shows what visitors to the newly renovated monument can expect

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  BIRD'S EYE VIEW
Click for views from the top of the monument, courtesy of the National Park Service
 

The government celebrated the job's completion several weeks ago, even though work on the 555-foot (169-meter) obelisk wasn't quite finished. Now that it is, those who worked on the project say they can hardly wait to watch visitors' reactions.

"It is the final test," construction manager Mike Couacaud said. "Let the public in there and see."

For the most part, the popular tourist attraction honoring the nation's first president has stood the test of time. Stone masons touched up the outside, replacing crumbling granite with stone from the same quarries from which the monument's original pieces were carved 112 years ago.

Better viewing, tighter security

"That stone is almost as good as new," Couacaud said. "The corners are still sharp, and you almost see the original marks from the original masons that put it in."

The view inside, from the floor to 500 feet overhead, also has been improved.

The windows have been enlarged by several inches, the elevator runs better and the air conditioning's colder. Workers also replaced the monument's lightning-protection system and installed new exhibits.

The windows have been enlarged by several inches, providing better views of the city  

Authorities have tightened security around the monument after a recent study found it to be particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack. Visitors now face a gantlet of barriers and metal scanners around one of the capital's main tourist attractions.

In the old days, as many as 4,000 people visited the monument daily -- more than 1 million annually -- but the new security is expected to cut that number in half.

This re-opening is short-lived. The monument will close again for two months starting in December, when a new elevator cab will be installed.



RELATED STORIES:
Washington Monument restoration celebrated
July 3, 2000
U.S. monuments reportedly vulnerable to attack
July 3, 2000
Washington's monuments may be easy targets for terrorists
July 2, 2000
Surveyors take measure of the Washington Monument
August 18, 1999
Scaffolding ceremony sheds light on Washington Monument
March 2, 1999

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Washington Monument home page

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