2011 Earthquake


"The storms of winter must blow and beat upon it ... the lightnings of Heaven may scar and blacken it. An earthquake may shake its foundations ... but the character which it commemorates and illustrates is secure." - Robert Winthrop at the dedication of the Washington Monument, February 21, 1885

The Earthquake
At 1:51 p.m. on August 23, 2011, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck 90 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. Visitors inside the Washington Monument's observation deck were thrown about by the force of the shaking; falling mortar and pieces of stone caused minor injuries, though all the people inside exited safely. Damage occurred throughout the metropolitan Washington area, but the Washington Monument was among the significantly damaged structures. Check out the videos below to learn more about the earthquake, assessments and the repairs that followed.

Assessing the Aftermath
Assessments of the building revealed cracks, spalls, and displacements of stones and joints throughout the building. Using centuries-old stone masonry techniques and modern engineering science, the National Park Service and Difficult Access Team from Wiss, Janey, Elstner, Inc. assessed the damage to this one of a kind structure and planned for a precarious repair.

The Repair Plan
The repair work that followed ensured that all have the opportunity to ascend to the observation deck and to stand outside the shining obelisk and look up in wonder and amazement admiring the greatness of both the monument and the man whose memory it represents.

Last updated: August 7, 2019

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