WASHINGTON (AP) — The reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall reopened Friday after a two-year, $34 million reconstruction, completing the largest National Park Service project funded by President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.
Visitors and construction workers gathered to snap photos and cheered as construction fences were taken down. National Mall Superintendent Robert Vogel told the crowd to "come on in."
It was likely the largest reconstruction project in the mall's history. A rededication ceremony is planned Sept. 29.
"It's just an incredible space here and one of the most photographed locations in the United States," Vogel said as the pool reopened. "It's an iconic view of the Lincoln on one side and the Washington on the other. It's now complete."
The pool and grounds have long been a gathering place for historic events. It's where thousands converged in August 1963 to hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech, and it has hosted protests and presidential celebrations.
The pool had stagnant water, though, and had begun to leak and sink into the land dredged from the Potomac River to build the memorial site.
Now the pool has been reengineered with a circulation and filtration system. Instead of using city drinking water, it draws river water from the nearby Tidal Basin, which will save 20 million gallons of drinking water each year.
The pool is shallower — only 3 feet at its deepest point — to save water, and its bottom is tinted gray to make the water darker and more reflective of the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument.