Repairs to the Washington Monument are in the "home stretch" and public tours will resume in May, the National Park Service said Tuesday.
The monument has been closed since Aug. 23, 2011, when a 5.8-magnitue earthquake centered in central Virginia shook the region. The quake left the monument, a 555-foot obelisk, with cracks and loose stones.
“We are delighted to be in the home stretch with the repairs,” National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said.
A reopening ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. on May 12, with the first tour set for 1 p.m. Tickets for that day will be available starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Monument Lodge first come, first served, with tickets for all later days available for reservation on line at www.recreation.gov starting April 16.
David M. Rubenstein, a Washington-area philanthropist who paid half the cost of repairing the monument, praised the park service for doing a "spectacular job."
The monument, dedicated to the first U.S. president, was completed in 1885, almost 40 years after the cornerstone was laid, with construction interrupted by the Civil War and other disputes. It was briefly the world's tallest man-made structure until the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris in 1889.