If you are traveling to Washington DC in pursuit of the monuments, there is one you will have to view from afar, the Washington Monument. The monument will be closed indefinitely because the 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August had done more damage to it than had been previously revealed. Debris made up mostly of mortar had fallen during the quake and had been found at the base and where more substantial pieces of stone had fallen loose inside the monument.
West Coast states, especially California, are well prepared for earthquakes. Homes and buildings have a standard building code; a properly engineered structure does not necessarily have to be extremely strong or expensive but it has to be properly designed to withstand the seismic effects while sustaining an acceptable level of damage. Californians are used to the shake, rattle and roll of quakes but most on the East Coast experienced a quake for the first time in their lives due to the fact that earthquakes are less frequent in the central and eastern U.S. than in the west – the East Coast is about 100 times less seismically active than California; they’re typically felt over a broader area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The recent 5.8 earthquake on the East Coast is a reminder that aging buildings are a public safety threat during times of seismic activity because of falling bricks and other debris.
The beautiful old buildings that add so much charm to towns and cities scattered along the East Coast are rarely tested by the forces such as the 5.8-magnitude quake which is much different than those created by the more common high winds, heavy rains or deep snows.
The elements that connect brick or stone facades to buildings can deteriorate over time with moisture penetration, and a good shaking can then send the material raining down on anyone unlucky enough to be standing below.
The Washington Monument was built between 1848 and 1884 as a tribute to George Washington. Weighing 81,120 tons, the monument stands 555′ 5-1/8″ tall. The walls range in thickness from 15′ at the base to 18” at the upper shaft. They are composed primarily of white marble blocks from Maryland with a few from Massachusetts, underlain by Maryland blue gneiss and Maine granite. Inserted into the interior walls are 193 memorial stones presented by individuals, societies, cities, States, and nations of the world. A flight of 896 steps surround an elevator which takes visitors to the observation level, where they can gaze over the city from the monument’s pyramidion windows.
Today, the Washington Monument is one of the most visible landmarks in the world that is identified with the United States capital.
Monument location and current information
State Pl NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20006