Inspection Shows Cracks in Top Of Washington Monument, Prompting Call To Engineers With Earthquake Expertise

A close inspection of the Washington Monument has revealed cracks, thought to have been caused by Tuesday's earthquake, in the uppermost section. U.S. Park Police photo.

A closer inspection of the Washington Monument in the wake of Tuesday's earthquake has revealed cracks in the uppermost section of the monument, prompting the National Park Service to call in structural engineers with expertise in earthquake engineering to assess the damage.

Park Service engineers, historical architects, and engineers with expertise in earthquake engineering from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. of Northbook, Illinois, and Tipping Mar Associates of Berkeley, California, have been called in to make detailed assessments on the Washington Monument. Both firms specialize in investigating earthquake-damaged structures after major earthquakes, according to a Park Service release.

WJE has investigated damaged buildings from more than 30 earthquakes around the world. They also have experience working on Park Service historical structures, including the stabilization and seismic update for the Alcatraz Cellhouse at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and repair of the 352-foot tall Perry's Victory & International Peace
Memorial in Ohio.

A team from WJE was expected in Washington on Friday to completely assess the damage and to determine what repairs will need to be made before the monument can be reopened to the public.

"We are bringing in WJE because of their experience not only with seismic issues, but with historic structures," said Robert A. Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. "The Washington Monument is one of America's most important landmarks and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that it is restored completely and correctly."