Friday, July 1, 2011

A Lot of Steps

Saw this this morning:

"The Washington Monument elevator was back in service Friday morning, after stalling Thursday evening with 16 people aboard.

D.C. firefighters were called to rescue 16 people from the stuck elevator about 6:45 p.m. Thursday. Rescue workers were able to bring the elevator, which was stuck about 490 feet above ground, to the floor, but a group of people were stranded at the top of the monument and had to walk down, said Pete Piringer, a fire department spokesman."

The Monument is just under 556 feet tall, and I think I heard there are 900 steps to get you from top to bottom, although I think people are no longer allowed to walk up the steps for safety reasons.  I was reminded of the survey project we assisted with in 2003 - resurveying the position of the Monument while it was encased in scaffolding for renovations.

High Accuracy GPS Equipment Mounted on Top of Washington Monument

The crew rode the elevator as far as it would go and then they went out a window and climbed a ladder the last 60 feet to get to the top.  The very thought of doing that made my stomach queasy, because this is what you saw if you looked straight down:

It wasn't the first time this had been done, though.  In 1934 we had a crew up there doing the same thing with pre-GPS equipment.  Note the comparative lack of safety netting and scaffolding.  The tip of the Monument can be seen to the right of the seated note-taker's shoulder.

Definitely makes me queasy to think about.