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The Earthquake-Damaged Washington Monument Looks Really Snazzy at Night Now

Tourists still can't visit the top of the Washington Monument, but at least they can get a sweet light show.

Monday night marked the debut of 488 glowing lamps that now line America's most famous obelisk. Their origin actually dates back to the 1990s, when Michael Graves was commissioned to design a curtain-like scrim for the monument during the structure's previous renovation. That design is being used again during current renovations, a look that stands out especially in daylight. The lamps, activated by sensors, light up from behind the scrim.

The Washington Monument has been closed since August, 2011, thanks to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit that left stones near the top of the monument chipped and cracked. The repair bill has been estimated at around $15 million, split between the National Park Service and philanthropist David Rubenstein.

The park service estimates the monument will reopen in spring 2014.

What the Washington Monument currently looks like in daylight with its scaffolding. Photo taken June 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Visitors lie on the grass beneath the newly-lit Washington Monument in Washington, July 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

A floodlight illuminates the grounds at the Washington Monument in Washington, July 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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