Damage to Monuments

From: “Earthquake reported along the East Coast”, Washington Post

The National Park Service says the Washington Monument may have suffered cracks near its top during Tuesday’s earthquake, and the monument could be closed indefinitely.

Park service spokesman Bill Line said there appear to be cracks “at the very, very top” of the 555-foot tall structure, and structural engineers were being brought in Wednesday to conduct a close inspection.

Meanwhile, the historic stone obelisk at the center of the Mall, south of the White House, will remain closed, and “could be closed for an indefinite period of time,” he said.

The tip of the National Cathedral in Washington spire crashed onto the steps on Pilgrim Road. Joe Alonso, the mason foreman at the Cathedral, said the main central tower “sustained some pretty significant damage to the pinnacles.” A press release from the National Cathedral also said that cracks have appeared in the flying buttresses at the Cathedral’s east end.

Mount Rona Church at 13th and Monroe Street NW also sustained damage, as did the Embassy of Ecuador at 15th and Euclid NW.

From: “More earthquake damage found at Washington Monument”, LA Times

National Park Service officials discovered additional cracks in the Washington Monument on Thursday, including a prominent fissure along the top pyramid section of the popular landmark.

The monument was closed immediately after the magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia on Tuesday and officials soon afterward discovered cracks in the stone of the 555-foot-tall obelisk.

From: “Earthquake-damaged Washington National Cathedral needs to raise millions”, Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein

The most dramatic damage from the quake was at the top, to the pinnacles on the central tower. Three of the four had their tops snapped off and the fourth was knocked out of alignment, like a cake whose layers had slid and were off balance.

Standing on the roof Wednesday, Alonso, who has worked at the cathedral for nearly 30 years, said it was difficult to see the place littered with toppled pillars and chunks of angels and limestone fragments. Alonso was one of three people atop the cathedral when its final stone was set in 1990.

“It’s just surreal,” he said. Part of a three-member mason crew, Alonso said the workers spent four years in the 1990s shoring up the central tower’s roof, including repointing and drilling pins into the spires that eventually fell. “I felt so good about what we did. I figured it was set for decades.”

Cathedral officials said they need to check and stabilize the hundreds of limestone angels and smaller spires and other figures on the cathedral’s exterior to ensure that nothing falls.

In addition to the enormous spires, or pinnacles, atop the cathedral’s main tower, at least a few smaller spires and angels appeared to have cracked.

Wedged deep into the grass, where hundreds of tourists walk on a typical day, was a finial, or spire top, that had plummeted hundreds of feet in Tuesday’s earthquake.


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