Friday, May 17, 2013
“The Monument is to be finished, some day, and at that time our Washington will have risen still higher in the nation's veneration, and will be known as the Great-Great-Grandfather of his Country.” - Mark Twain
The Washington Monument is arguably the most prominent feature of the Washington, DC skyline. In 1833, John Marshall, James Madison and others created the Washington National Monument Society in honor of the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday. The Society advertised for competitive architectural designs beginning in 1836. Robert Mills’ design was chosen and on July 4, 1848, the cornerstone was laid.
Construction was halted in 1856 when national turmoil left the project without funding. Work was not resumed until 1876, after the Civil War ended. By that time Robert Mills had died, so Lieutenant Colonel Thomas L. Casey replaced him as the lead architect. The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885 and opened to the public on October 9, 1888, exactly 40 years after the cornerstone was laid.
The Egyptian obelisk monument stands 555’ 5 1/8” tall and weighs 81,120 tons. It is surrounded by 50 American flags, one for each state. The structure is made of white marble blocks which range in thickness from 15’ at the base to 18” at the top. Visitors may notice that the marble changes color at 150 feet; that marks the spot where construction stopped between 1856 and 1876. Visitors are welcome to climb the 896 steps inside the monument to the observation level which, on a clear day, provides 30-40 mile views (there is also, of course, an elevator!).
The Washington Monument is the tallest structure in Washington, DC; the tallest stone structure in the world; and the tallest obelisk in the world. It was the tallest structure in the world from 1885 until 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was finished.
Learn more about the Washington Monument on Wikipedia.
Stay up to date on earthquake damage repair work at the Washington Monument. Click here for restoration reports, photos and video
You Can Help
The National Mall is in a state of disrepair.
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Did you know??
The Washington Monument is not exactly centered on the National Mall because the swampy ground in the area defied 19th century engineering.