Keep the Washington Monument's Lights On

published by Eric Mill on

The Washington Monument looks wonderful these days:

Photo by Casey Labrack.

But it's temporary. These lights are only there because of the snazzy repair scaffolding put on the Monument after the extremely rare earthquake that hit DC in 2011.

So, I've done my civic duty and begun a White House petition to keep the lights around after repairs are complete. How about signing it?

Petition: Make the Washington Monument's beautiful night time lights permanent.

Now, why appeal to the White House? After all, doesn't the National Park Service manage the Monument?

Well, apparently during the monument's 1999 renovation, they put up the same piece of scaffolding! And people loved it -- especially that site's creator, an enthusiastic man named Chad Allen:

The new look wasn't quite Blade Runner's future world, but it still lent the old granite-and-marble monolith a modern metallic flourish for the next century. As time went by, the structure designed by architect Michael Graves slowly engulfed the obelisk, the sun glinting off the blue aluminum surface. But when [Chad] Allen saw the monument at night—burning bright in its metal-and-nylon-netting cage as if lit from within—he became a full convert: "It has this luminescent quality," he says. "It really stands out now. Whereas before it was kind of muted, now it grabs your attention, out there glowing in the dark.

But it was not saved. People in the DC government didn't approve:

"If this proposal ever reaches here for some reason only known to God, I can guarantee it will not be approved," says Jeff Carver, assistant secretary at the D.C. Commission on Fine Arts, which approved the permit for Graves' scaffold as a temporary structure.

And neither did people working with the National Park Service:

"We're all thrilled that everybody has been so taken by it, but we encourage people to enjoy it while they can because it will come down," said Jen Larson, a spokeswoman for the National Park Foundation, a partner of the National Park Service that oversees the monument.

It's unlikely they'll feel any differently this time. So guess what? Time to go over their heads:

Damon Winter / New York Times

  1. Robert Holbert

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