WASHINGTON (WJZ) — It took nearly three years and $15 million to do it but Monday, the Washington Monument is once again open to the public.

Alex DeMetrick reports a Baltimore native helped make it happen.

Three years ago, when a rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the mid-Atlantic, it was the Washington Monument that took some of the hardest hits. The world’s tallest stone structure—built before steel support—had over 100 cracks. The entire surface was covered with scaffolding before repairs could even begin—repairs made largely possible by Baltimore businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein.

“And he stepped up and paid full for half of the repairs of the monument, seven and a half million dollars, which is incredible. Thank you, David,” said US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jeweel.

“I did it because I wanted to give back to the country that’s been so good to me and it’s just a down payment on my obligation to this country,” Rubenstein said.

And Monday, the country got its monument back, and a ceremony celebrating the reopening of the Washington Monument to the public.

“It looks good. We have to point out to people some of the repairs that have been done and I think that’s a good thing,” said National Mall Superintendent Robert Vogle.

While speeches and a ceremony mark the reopening, it’s the monument people came to see.

“Well, it’s our freedom. I’m just very proud of being here today,” said Nelson Lange.

“We were here last year when the scaffolding was here so it’s a pleasure,” said Judy Lange. “It’s a treasure.”

One that has stood for 130 years through wars, hurricanes and an earthquake, overlooking a city George Washington said should be built here to serve a nation.

Tickets to the Washington Monument can be reserved through the Park Service website and is already booked into June.

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