WASHINGTON–The Washington Monument, which has been plagued with elevator problems since a 2011 earthquake struck the U.S. capital, will remain closed until 2019 for much-needed repairs and renovations, the National Park Service said Friday. A new elevator will be installed in the towering landmark — one of the most popular in the U.S. capital — to allow visitors to reach the top of the giant stone obelisk for sweeping views of the city and its surroundings. Billionaire businessman and philanthropist David Rubinstein has donated the US$2-3 million needed to complete the project, which will resolve ongoing mechanical, electrical and computer issues.
“The monument has become a symbol of our country, and reminds everyone of the towering strengths of our first president,” Rubinstein said in a statement issued by the National Park Service. “I am honored to help make this symbol safely accessible again to all Americans as soon as practicable.” Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of private equity firm The Carlyle Group, is among the richest people in the United States, with a net worth of some US$2.5 billion, according to Forbes Magazine.