In 1934, seven Gallaudet students touched the top of the Washington monument via a 500-foot elevator ride and 55 feet of climbing ladders. At that time, the monument was wrapped in scaffolding while workers repaired lightning damage. The students obtained permission to ascend the scaffolding in the workmen's elevator. They then climbed the last 55 feet up a narrow ladder to the top. They could see where repairmen were working to seal a large crack running for about 25 feet down the side of the monument. Five students were from the Gallaudet class of 1939, one from 1936 and the other 1937.
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The construction for this monument began in 1848; it was finally completed in 1884. The reason for a halt in construction was due to the combination of Civil War, the Know Nothing Party’s rise to control of the Washington National Monument Society through an illegal election and lack of funding.