Washington Monument

Located in Washington, D.C., the Washington Monument is dedicated to the commander of the Continental Army and our first president George Washington, and is recognized as one of the most popular attractions in our nation’s capital. Photo: Andrea Izzotti/Fotolia


»History

History


The Washington Monument honors and preserves the legacy of George Washington. Together, Robert Mills, Thomas Casey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed to create the Washington Monument in two construction phases. The first construction phase was private and occurred between 1848 and 1854. The second construction phase was public and occurred from 1876 to 1884. When the Washington Monument was officially completed in 1884, its 555 feet and 5-1/8 inches height was regarded as the world’s tallest building.

The first person to draft designs for the Washington Monument was Pierre L’Enfant. L’Enfant designed the Washington Monument in a way that evoked a sense of honor and had a prominent open space area. The Egyptian obelisk design demonstrates the classic architectural style similar to ancient civilizations that honored pride, achievement, gratitude, and respect.

After plans for the Washington Monument were approved, a private organization formed. This organization was called the Washington National Monument Society. The Society sought out to raise enough funds to carry out the necessary construction and maintenance needed for the new monument. Although the Society was initially founded after seeing L’Enfant’s designs, the Society decided to go with Robert Mills’ purer design of an Egyptian obelisk in 1845.

Three years after settling on Mills’ design, the Society raised enough funds to begin construction. On July 4, 1848, 20,000 people attended a ceremony in which the first cornerstone was placed. Since the deign was intricate and ambitious, construction only reached 156 feet six years after the initial cornerstone was placed.

One year prior to achieving a height of 156 feet, the Washington National Monument Society lost control of their administration and was eventually declared bankrupt one year later. Since there were no funds for the Monument, construction stopped. One year later, in 1855, Robert Mills passed away. Between Mills’ passing and the lack of funds, the monument remained at its current height for two decades.

On July 5, 1876, Congress passed a joint resolution that funded the Washington Monument, thus resuming construction. Lt. Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, oversaw the remaining construction. Although Mills’ initial design plans entailed the Washington Monument reach 600 feet tall, Casey made modifications that made the Monument’s base large, thus the height smaller.

On February 21, 1885, which was one day prior to George Washington’s birthday, the Washington Monument was dedicated to Washington. One year later, the interior iron staircase was finished, so the Washington Monument was open to the public. Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. - Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Fotolia

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»Attractions

Attractions


The only attraction at the Washington Monument is the Monument itself. Visitors are allowed to explore the inside of the Monument. The first thing visitors will see is the ground floor lobby, where the famous George Washington statue is located. Then, visitors step inside an elevator and travel to the top floor. Visitors can see various inscribed stones dedicated to Washington from various groups, individuals, and places. The top floor has an observation deck, which will allow visitors to explore the north, south, east, and west areas. The observation deck is located at 500 feet.

In addition to the observation deck, visitors are encouraged to explore the museum located 10 feet below the observation deck. It’s important to note that while there are steps that go all the way to the observation deck, visitors are only allowed to travel by elevator. In addition to transportation regulations, only a select number of visitors are able to explore the Washington Monument on a daily basis. That being said, it’s important to plan your visit in advance.

For more information about visiting the Washington Monument, be sure to check out the Monument’s website or contact the Monument during their standard hours of operation. Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. - Photo: Oleksandr Dibrova/Fotolia

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»Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities

Since the Washington Monument is basically one large educational opportunity, the Monument does not offer any other educational opportunities. If you’re interested in learning in-depth information about the Washington Monument, or George Washington, you could tour the Monument with one of the historic D.C. tour groups. Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. - Photo: robert cicchetti/Fotolia

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»Shopping

Shopping


After touring the Washington Monument, be sure to check out the Washington Monument Lodge, which is located at the bottom of the Washington Monument. This bookstore sells a variety of objects and souvenirs, such as books and trinkets. All of the proceeds are divided among the National Mall, Memorial Parks, and National Parks.

Back to: Washington, D.C.

900 Ohio Drive SW, Washington, D.C. 20024, website, Phone: 202-426-6841 Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. - Photo: josephgruber/Fotolia

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Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.