Melania Trump cuts ribbon on reopened Washington Monument

First lady Melania Trump high-fives students from Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Washington as she arrives at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to re-open the Washington Monument, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Washington. The monument has been closed to the public for renovations since August 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A visitor looks out toward the U.S. Capitol from the Washington Monument's observation level during a press preview tour ahead of the monument's official reopening, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Washington. The monument, which has been closed to the public since August 2016, is scheduled to re-open Thursday, Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Clouds roll over the Lincoln Memorial, top, Reflecting Pool and World War II Memorial, as seen from the Washington Monument's observation level, during a press preview tour ahead of the monument's official reopening, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Washington. The monument, which has been closed to the public since August 2016, is scheduled to re-open Thursday, Sept. 19. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A National Park Service park ranger is reflected in the glass wall of a new security screening building at the foot of the Washington Monument following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to re-open the monument with first lady Melania Trump, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Washington. The monument has been closed to the public for renovations since August 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
First lady Melania Trump, center, and Department of Interior assistant secretary Rob Wallace, left, participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with students from Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Washington to re-open the Washington Monument, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Washington. The monument has been closed to the public for renovations since August 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — The refurbished Washington Monument is once again open for tourists.

First lady Melania Trump, accompanied by local fourth graders, cut the ribbon Thursday morning as the monument opened to the public for first time in three years. The 555-foot stone obelisk closed in September 2016 to replace the elevator and upgrade security systems.

The monument has been closed for most of the past eight years. An August 2011 earthquake left cracks in the stones near the top of the obelisk. It reopened in 2014, but National Park Service officials were forced to close it again two years later after a series of elevator breakdowns.

The monument, which was completed in 1884 and remains the tallest building in Washington, normally averages about 500,000 visitors per year.

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