Is the Washington Monument Getting Shorter?

Bad news—the Washington Monument may be sinking. Our beloved 555-foot tall tower may now be 2 millimeters shorter. A recent study examining this possibility is currently ongoing, and its results will be available in a few weeks.

So what’s with the possible shrinkage? Well, for starters, the monument was built on pretty soft land taken from the Potomac River in the 80’s and 90’s. Next, think of how heavy this 91,000-ton structure must be. Then, add in that 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit D.C. last August into the mix, and it starts to make sense.

This just adds to the currently damaged state of the monument. Last summer’s earthquake also caused a significant number of stones to be loosened or dismantled from both its exterior and interior, leaving the city with a costly $15 million repair job. So don’t plan to go inside until next year at the earliest. For now, a view of the outside is the best you’re gonna get—good thing it’s Cherry Blossom season.

The National Park Service will working in conjunction with the National Geodetic Survey to understand and evaluate this problem. So, while 2 millimeters is greater than expected, the Washington Monument should not be falling over anytime soon.

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