WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) - The Washington Monument, a centerpiece of the U.S. capital skyline, will reopen on May 12 after a lengthy closure for earthquake damage, the National Park Service said on Tuesday.
The last of the scaffolding that has shrouded the 555-foot-high (169.2-meter-high) marble-and-granite structure since the August 2011 quake will be taken down starting this week, the agency said in a statement.
"We are delighted to be in the homestretch with the repairs to the Washington Monument almost complete," said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.
The monument to George Washington, the first U.S. president, sustained cracks, loosened stones and lost mortar during the earthquake. The worst damage was at the top, to the four-sided pyramidon.
The monument, completed in 1884, gets about 600,000 visitors a year.
Congress appropriated $7.5 million to repair the damage. The amount was matched by billionaire David Rubenstein, a leading Washington philanthropist. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Edith Honan and Dan Grebler)