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Stone by stone, engineers repair damaged Washington Monument

Alex Brandon / AP

Scaffolding surrounds the Washington Monument in Washington. The monument has been closed since a 2011 earthquake.

Alex Brandon / AP

A missing corner of a stone is seen in the Washington Monument at the 491-foot level. Half of the needed repairs have been funded by a $7.5 million donation from philanthropist David Rubenstein.

Most birds don't fly high enough to see the top of the Washington Monument, though that didn't stop a group of government officials and philanthropists from clipping themselves into harnesses and climbing to the tip to see the obelisk's cracked stones.

Some gashes in the monument are deep, while other stones had their corners chipped off in a 2011 earthquake that closed the monument. Some stones have hairline cracks. Others are missing mortar between stones because it broke apart due to the strongest vibrations near the top. At least one massive stone shifted a thumb's length out of line with the stone below it during the quake.

Stone by stone, engineers are reviewing cracks, missing pieces and broken mortar now that huge scaffolding has been built around the towering symbol of the nation's capital. Once each trouble spot is identified, repairs can begin. Read the full story.

Alex Brandon / AP

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, center, speaks after climbing a ladder to the top of the monument's pyramid.

Alex Brandon / AP

Repairs have begun on a crack at the 231-foot level. Once each trouble spot is identified, repairs can begin.

Alex Brandon / AP

The shadow of the Washington Monument and surrounding scaffolding is seen from the 231-foot level looking toward the World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Images taken on on June 2, 2013 and made available to NBC News today.

Incredible new images were released Monday showing what it was like inside the Washington Monument as an earthquake hit in late August. The monument has not re-opened since. NBC's Tom Costello reports.