WASHINGTON (AP) — The museums that draw millions of visitors to the National Mall closed their doors Tuesday, memorials were barricaded and trash will go uncollected in the nation’s most-visited national park due to the first government shutdown in 17 years.
Visitors found locked doors, black metal barricades and yellow caution tape blocking entrances to popular tourist attractions just hours after the shutdown. Fountains at the World War II Memorial were shut off.
“Why the heck does this have to be closed?” said Deb Cavender, 44, of Ames, Iowa, as she and her husband were making their way toward the memorial.
Tourists took pictures of signs on the barricades that read “Because of the Federal Government SHUTDOWN, All National Parks Are CLOSED.”
One by one, the memorials were closed, along with about 45 fountains maintained by the National Park Service, said spokeswoman Carol Johnson. Pumps will be stopped at the Lincoln Memorial’s long reflecting pool, but it won’t be immediately drained.
Perhaps most noticeable: Trash pickup has ceased on the National Mall and in downtown Washington parks maintained by the National Park Service. In total, 330 workers from the National Mall have been furloughed.
Melinda MacNamara, 25, and her boyfriend Ian Keen, 31, were visiting from Australia. They toured the National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday but were out of luck Tuesday when they found Smithsonian museums closed. The pair thought the outdoor monuments would be open but found barricades blocking their way.
“We’re making the most of it,” MacNamara said, adding that the sites seemed less crowded.
While government-run museums on the National Mall were closed, many other attractions planned to stay open for tourists. The group Cultural Tourism DC said there will be numerous arts and cultural options for visitors and residents. Steve Shulman, the group’s executive director, said the shutdown may give visitors a chance to see different sites than they would normally visit.