After Tuesday’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake, one of the most powerful in the history of the Washington area, there have been swirling rumors about the Washington Monument leaning or tilting. Luckily, these rumors about the new Leaning Monument of Washington are incorrect, but the landmark did sustain damage in the quake.
Stones near the top of the Washington Monument have shown cracking, and as of Wednesday morning, engineers were planning to inspect the structure to see what the extent of the damage is and how it can best be repaired. It has been closed indefinitely to visitors in the meantime.
About five miles across town, close to the Maryland border, the National Cathedral also suffered damage. The top of one of the cathedral’s spires broke and crumbled off, sending stones crashing to the ground and leaving an unsymmetrical, broken facade. Cracks are visible elsewhere in the structure, including in the flying buttresses of the east end of the cathedral which is the oldest part of the building.
Sam Lloyd, dean of the National Cathedral, said “it’s not massive damage, but it’s very serious.” As with the incorrect Washington Monument leaning rumors, the National Cathedral is not leaning either, and is not in danger of collapsing. The cathedral is also closed to visitors for the time being.
The earthquake that struck Tuesday was centered in Mineral, Va., which is about 100 miles to the south of Washington. While it was felt along nearly the entire eastern seaboard, Washington suffered some of the biggest rumblings, due to its relatively close proximity to the epicenter.
After the tremors were felt at about 2 p.m., many federal government buildings were shutdown, and traffic backed up across the Washington metro area.
Some residents feared the worst before news reports came in, that a possible nuclear attack on the nation’s capital had taken place. So it was a relief that it was an earthquake, and that while it was powerful and nearby, no deaths and no other major damage were reported.
The Washington Monument isn’t tilting, and neither is the National Cathedral, so Washington residents, Americans across the country and tourists planning a trip to the District can all breathe a sigh of relief.
This article was first published by Jake Emen on Yahoo! News on August 24, 2011