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Washington, D.C.: Capitol Rotunda reopens; Washington Monument's elevator still broken

Washington, D.C.: Capitol Rotunda reopens; Washington Monument's elevator still broken
Look up! Visitors on Tuesday crane their necks to view the newly renovated Capitol Rotunda's ceiling. The area reopened to the public after repairs from water leaks were made inside the dome. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

It's been a tough summer for tourists in Washington, D.C. The Capitol Rotunda, which welcomes about 2 million visitors a year, closed in July for renovation work.

A month later, the Washington Monument closed after the elevator gave out (specifically an elevator cable), grounding one of the most popular free ride-to-the-top attractions in the capital.

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But here's the good news: The Capitol Rotunda reopened to visitors Tuesday. And the circular room 96 feet in diameter and 180 feet high has been spiffed up too.

Water leaking through the dome had caused cracks in walls and damaged some of the dome's "decorative elements," according to a statement from the Architect of the Capitol.

The newly renovated dome shines in the Capitol Rotunda.
The newly renovated dome shines in the Capitol Rotunda. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA)

Repairs to the inside dome began in July 2015; the closure on July 23 allowed workers to remove scaffolding. Renovation work continues in the outer/inner dome area but is expected to be completed in time for the presidential inauguration in January.

The Washington Monument's elevator, however, doesn't seem to be as easy to fix.

It closed Aug. 17 and now looks like it won't reopen until mid-September because repairs are taking longer than expected.

The National Park Service held a flashy birthday event -- 1,200 people creating its logo -- at the Washington Monument's grounds on Aug. 25 to mark its 100th year. The monument's elevator, however, was broken and is still being repaired.
The National Park Service held a flashy birthday event -- 1,200 people creating its logo -- at the Washington Monument's grounds on Aug. 25 to mark its 100th year. The monument's elevator, however, was broken and is still being repaired. (National Park Service)

According to a National Park Service statement, the landmark may upgrade its elevator completely. That would cost $2 million to $3 million and take about nine months to complete.

No contracts have been awarded for the work that's still in the planning stages.

The 555-foot obelisk also closed in August 2011 after a rare magnitude 5.8 earthquake damaged some of its granite and marble stones. Repairs were extensive, and the monument didn't reopen until May 2014.

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