Elevator problem shuts Washington Monument, but National Park Service birthday event will go on

The Washington Monument is closed and will remain shut at least until Aug. 30 while the landmark’s elevator is repaired. The closure won’t, however, stop a Thursday event planned on the grounds to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The Park Service is set to gather more than 1,000 people to form the agency’s arrowhead emblem at the base of the monument. The plan is to photograph the human design from the monument’s 500-foot observation level.

“The photographers may have to walk up instead of take the elevator,” spokesman Mike Litterst wrote in an email Monday.

The monument shut down last Wednesday when a cable broke and the elevator stopped between the 490-foot and 500-foot level, according to media reports. The marble obelisk dedicated in 1885 stands 555 feet tall.

Those who reserved tickets this week for the 70-second ride to the top are out of luck. The $1.50 service fee for each ticket isn’t refundable either. (Tickets are free; the fee applies to online reservations.)

Litterst says high demand for the tour precludes the Park Service from exchanging tickets on a closed date for another day.

As of Monday, tickets to tour the monument are reserved through Oct. 18. And there’s no other way to the top. Yes, there are stairs, but they were closed to the public in 1976.

The National Park Service turns 100 on Thursday. Birthday parties are planned at parks nationwide to celebrate America’s 59 national parks and 350-some historic sites, national seashores and other public lands.

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