22 August 2012

The restored Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool


I've been following this story ever since the Washington Post coverage last May -
The four-ton hammers have been at it a week now. Pounding the timber pilings through the earth... The 18-month, $30.7 million project to replace the 80-year-old reflecting pool, which began in November, is well underway. Last week workers started sinking the pilings — 2,133, to be exact — that will support the new pool.
- in part because I was born in Washington D.C. and some of my earliest memories are of the monuments and the cherry blossoms.   Now the pool is ready to be refilled.
It will debut an almost completely rebuilt and slightly redesigned pool — shallower, but more aesthetically pleasing, with a tinted bottom, sidewalks to replace the old dirt paths and subtle nighttime illumination.

It will also employ a new water supply system in which its water will for the first time be drawn from the Tidal Basin — not from city water reserves — and be cleaned and recirculated. The old pool could not circulate its often-stagnant water...

Once the site of winter ice skating and summer toy boat regattas, by 2010 the pool was a fetid wreck, its water off limits to the public. Its old bottom was cracked and leaking 500,000 gallons of city water a week, 30 million gallons a year...
This is the part of the story which got my attention:
And after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, fears arose that the shallow, unobstructed pool might be an avenue for an attack on the Lincoln Memorial. Indeed, Quinn said, the security aspect “was probably the biggest driving force in getting this plan approved.” In 2010, the concerns, coupled with government stimulus money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, made replacement of the pool possible, Quinn said... Security was enhanced by a three-foot dip in the bottom at the west end of the pool, acting as a kind of moat to protect the Lincoln Memorial.
A universally-recognized national icon, reduced to decrepitude and fetid conditions, wasting 30 million gallons of city water a year, the subject of decades of pleas for upgrading, doesn't get fixed until someone says that terrorists might drive across it to attack the Lincoln Memorial.  So then they spend the money.  What a goofy mindset.

13 comments:

  1. The which might do what, now?

    Goofy.

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  2. Your final paragraph says it all. DHS has become the biggest boondoggle ever, and no politician has the nerve to say no.

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  3. You are correct. So goofy. I hope someone thought up this threat after exhaustively trying to get this fixed by every reasonable means. And finally, in utter desperation they shouted, "But terrorists could just drive right into the monument!" And then people were like, "OH MAN! We gotta fix this!"

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  4. Well, humans are goofy that way: we wait until something is a crisis before dealing with it head on, and even then, we handle it just enough to get it out of crisis mode and then leave it on the side of the road for someone else to deal with long-term.

    I still don't understand why we have to know every little detail of the construction and safety measures of public monuments and buildings. If terrorists weren't listening, then ok. But they are more interested than anyone else in knowing about any new security feature.

    This bad habit we have of acting like everyone within earshot is a decent human and means the rest of us no harm, so let's hold nothing back. Blab blab blab. Willfully naive, to our neverending peril.

    That's the goofy mindset that gives me agita. --A.

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    1. Thanks! I learned a new word. I have never seen "agita" before.

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    2. El placer es mío (I like it when I learn something new too). Cheers. --A.

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  5. Can anybody explain how this broken down pond might facilitate a terrorist attack? Are we talking something as simple as driving a . . . tank? a truck? . . . across the pond? Or is it something much more clever than that, and I am just not smart enough to see it?

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    1. I don't know, Timothy, but I think many (?most) similar sites have their road access protected with those steel pylons driven deep into the ground. Presumably the Lincoln Memorial's road access was similarly protected, but access "across the pool" was deemed vulnerable to a terrorist in a bomb-laden SUV.

      ???it's a weird mindset...

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    2. I'm hoping that there is a whole lot more to the feature than as described here, so it will be mystifying to anyone contemplating actually trying whatever. Decent folks really don't try very hard to contemplate defeating security with the intent of harming many all at once. Indecent folks, however... --A.

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  6. I just happened to be there this weekend. (I'm usually on the other side of the country.) It's refilled and looking pretty, though I only saw it from a distance.

    ... Terrorists. Aaargh. I'd like to think that was the given excuse only because there's loads of money available for 'national security' and very little for parks (as your previous post highlighted), but I wouldn't be too surprised if people took that reason seriously. My historian husband tells me that the US Interstate system only got built because we'd need it to evacuate cities in case of a Russian attack. It's a bizarre glitch in the human mind, and our politicians have been exploiting it like crazy since the end of WWII.

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  7. Presented for your consideration, the interstate highway system, or, as it is known by its official title: The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (although as I recall the Minuteman Missile was too tall to get under the over crossings). They do that all the time (our Congress Critters) they wrap some large (in this case not large) government expenditure passed for the benefit of some small interest group (typically of rich people who make large campaign donations) in the flag to make it unpatriotic to vote against it. It has nothing to do with national security or terrorists.

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  8. When societies that are supposed to have separated religion and state build vast temples to their masters, it is safe to conclude that the state has merely supplanted religion.

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    1. I don't understand; are you suggesting that religion should have primacy over the state?

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