It was just announced that the Washington Monument is reopening Monday, May 12, after a nearly 3-year long repair and restoration project due to an 8.5 magnitude earthquake that damaged the Monument in August of 2011.
Although I have seen the monument fairly up close when I traveled to our nation’s capital, I did not tour the “world’s tallest free-standing stone structure,” but it appears I was one of 700,000 (based on statistics) visitors a year. I would imagine also that many did not know the structure, when completed in 1884, had been the tallest in the world [for five years] until the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris. Not bad for a 130 year old, although some could say 166 years old since its original construction began in 1848.
Who could question that one of the most beautiful sites in America is seeing the Washington Monument at dawn or dusk, its obelisk shape stretching high into the sky. Is it any wonder that it is highly photographed, no matter the time of year, although popular photo are often seen during the cherry blossom blooming season.
After reading about the Washington monument being 130 years old I wondered what other tourism finds have withstood the sands of time and found several other note-worthy structures, such as the Brooklyn Bridge which took 13 years to complete at a price tag of $15.5 million dollars (about the same amount for the Washington Monument restoration). The bridge’s grand opening in May 1883 caused a “hoopla” with thousands in attendance while fireworks went off overhead and canons boomed and music filled the air while President Chester Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland (who later became president of the U.S.) joined New York’s mayor celebrating this auspicious occasion.
If you were a sea-faring traveler you might find the usefulness of the 130+ year old East Chop Lighthouse (fondly remembered as the chocolate lighthouse by locals in the East Chop community). This popular tourist attraction along the Nantucket Sound in Martha’s Vineyard was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, although according to a 2012 ‘Doomsday List’ it along with 43 other lighthouses were designated for destruction (due to the high cost of maintenance and with new technology were no longer needed to aid navigation), but the East Chop Lighthouse was saved. It has undergone ownership and many other changes throughout the years and while Martha’s Vineyard Museum is the lighthouse caretaker the United States Coast Guard owns this historic lighthouse.
Imagine being buffeted by angry waves during storms in the Pacific, and weathering the elements, (including major fires in 1986 and 1998) for more than 130 years where some 5 million visitors a year have made it the number one tourist attraction in Santa Barbara, California. Such is the story of Stearns Wharf, originally built in 1872. It served as a loading dock for cargo and passenger ships, and in the 1930’s was quite popular for gamblers seeking floating casinos. An event, taking place on Halloween, 1997, was the CNN filmed cyber-dive where live divers got wet but cyber-divers from all over the world stayed dry as they participated in a real-time show and tell dive and cyber-space distance learning.
Hopefully these historic tourist attractions will be around for another 130+ years.