The National Mall in Washington, D.C., is one of the capital's and the country's great public spaces, and one of its great adornments is the Reflecting Pool, which along its 2,028 foot length dramatically mirrors the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
But like so much of the Mall, which began life as a swamp, time and the instability of the soil caused problems that the cash-starved National Park Service could put off no longer.
The old pool, dedicated in 1922, leaked, the stone apron was cracked in many places and the water, for lack of circulation was often fetid and the resident geese made walking in the immediate vicinity an adventure.
Now, 20 months and $34 million later, the barriers are set to come down and the pool reopened to the public, perhaps as early as this weekend. Getting to that point was no easy task. The old pool had to be ripped out and 2,133 timber pilings driven into the underlying bedrock to support the new pool.
The new pool is shallower and more reflective than its predecessor and has the capacity to be cleaned and to re-circulate its water supply.
Visitors will once again be reminded how beautiful their capital is. Watch your step, though. The geese are back.
Dale McFeatters is a senior writer for the Scripps Howard News Service.