The Washington Monument has been closed to the public after Tuesday's earthquake, and will remain so until a proper safety assement can be completed, officials said.
There were conflicting reports late Tuesday about whether the Washington Monument suffered any damage. The Associated Press reported that a crack was found near the top of the monument, which is both the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk, standing just over 555 feet tall.
But the National Park Service posted a different message on its Web site that made no mention of such damage, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The NPS has completed a preliminary inspection of the Washington Monument and has found it to be structurally sound. The Washington Monument grounds are being reopened except for the plaza and the Monument itself. The NPS will continue to inspect the interior of the Monument before any decisions are made about reopening it to the public.
The National Park Service temporarily closed the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and the Old Post Office Tower as a precaution following the earthquake, and those monuments could reopen to the public as early as Wednesday pending a safety clearance.
For now, though, the Washington Monument, because of its structural complexities, will remain closed until further notice, the NPS website said.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and the Korean War Memorial remain open, the NPS said.
Washington’s National Cathedral, however, sustained significant damage, particularly to its dramatic central tower and in its flying buttresses, the Episcopal Church said.
Called the Gloria in Excelsis,” the cathedral’s central tower is the highest point in the nation’s capital, rising to a greater height than even the Washington Monument.
No one was injured in the quake, the church said in a statement reported by CNN.
The tower sustained damage on three of its four pinnacles, or corner spires, the church said, and cracks have appeared in some of flying buttresses, though the buttresses supporting the central tower appear to be sound.
Stonemasons and structural engineers were assessing building damage on Tuesday evening.
An Episcopal church, the Washington National Cathedral considers itself a spiritual home for the nation. It is the traditional site for official presidential inauguration services and for funeral and memorial services for 10 of the 14 presidents of the United States since 1893.