Melania Trump cuts ribbon on reopened Washington Monument

Melania Trump is helping to reopen the refurbished Washington Monument

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.