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In the two weeks that the Washington Monument has been open following a lengthy restoration, its single elevator has broken at least four times. The latest outage occurred Saturday and lasted for 32 minutes, according to National Mall and Memorial Parks spokeswoman Carol Johnson.
This time, the visitors stuck at the top of the monument didn’t have to walk down the 896 steps to the bottom. Instead, they just waited for the elevator to be fixed.
Johnson says she was unsure what the problem with the elevator was this weekend, but that the elevator has broken down for a different reason each time. In one instance, an object was blocking the elevator’s sensors; another time, the elevator key accidently wasn’t turned to operating mode. Two days after the Washington Monument reopened on May 12, the elevator broke twice, forcing stranded visitors to walk down the stairs in one instance.
Johnson says the elevator is safe and visitors should feel comfortable riding to the top of the monument. Even if the elevator breaks, she says visitors won’t be forced to walk down the stairs of the 555-foot monument; the monument has an automated chair that can make the descent. The elevator has been certified by the General Services Administration.
“It’s unusual to have this many elevator problems in this short of time,” Johnson says. “It’s embarrassing and it’s disappointing, but we are trying to have it taken care of.”
Johnson stresses that there’s just one elevator in the monument and it operates for about 13 hours a day. She points to another famous municipal institution that often has trouble with its escalators and elevators. “There’s just one elevator that gets enormous use,” she says. “If you look at the Metro system, the escalators are always out.”
You can make a reservation to go to the top of the monument here, if you dare.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.