After more than two weeks, parks and museums closed during the government shutdown reopened Thursday.
All national parks, monuments, memorials and Smithsonian museums were closed during the shutdown, leaving tourists and residents with plans to visit some of D.C.'s most popular sites with nothing to do. But attitudes about the closures soon turned from frustration to anger.
During a rally last week, veterans protesting the government shutdown clashed with police, taking down barricades blocking the closed World War II Memorial and dumping them outside the White House. During the shutdown, the National Park Service granted hundreds of veterans -- many of whom were in their 80s and 90s -- access to the shuttered World War II Memorial so they could exercise their first amendment rights.
Despite the memorial being closed to the general public, many tourists and veterans alike gained access by simply parting the barriers.
Those same barriers were hauled away Thursday morning.
All national parks -- from Yosemite to Shenandoah National Park -- reopened Thursday. Memorials and monuments managed by the National Park Service and Smithsonian museums will also reopened.
The visitor's center at the U.S Capitol opened at 8:30 a.m., providing tours for visitors. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will open at noon, with a telework and liberal leave policy for workers. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will also reopen Thursday.
The National Gallery of Art was going to open Saturday out of concern it would not have enough security personnel to open Thursday, but they were able to bring in enough guards to open at 10 a.m. The Sculpture Garden will open later in the day. Food services, however, will resume Saturday.
Despite the end of the shutdown, some attractions will not open immediately. The Smithsonian's National Zoo says it needs one day to get ready for guests and will open Friday.
The zoo announced Thursday it would give all visitors a 10 percent discount on food and merchandise to show their gratitude for the support their received during the shutdown.
We appreciate your support. All Zoo visitors will receive a 10% discount on food & merchandise 10/18 to 10/20!
— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) October 17, 2013
For those wondering how Mei Xiang and her cub are doing, the Panda Cam is live again. The zoo's other live animal cams will also go back online. The cameras were turned off during the shutdown because they required federal resources to operate.