|Location:||The National Mall|
|Lt. Col. Thomas L.Casey|
|Height:||555 feet 51⁄8 inches|
The most prominent memorial on the National Mall and one of the most recognizable symbols of the U.S., this immense stone obelisk immortalizes the founding father.
The Washington Monument took almost 100 years to complete after the initial idea came about immediately after Washington’s death in 1799. A monument was initially proposed within the Capitol itself, but never materialized. In 1833, John Marshall, James Madison and others formed the Washington National Monument Society and in 1836 opened a design competition to select an appropriate design for the memorial. Robert Mills, who had recently completed memorial to Washington in Baltimore, proposed an flat-topped obelisk surrounded by a neoclassical round base and was selected as the winning entry.
The initial cornerstone was laid in 1848 and construction continued until funding and political issues caused stoppage of work in 1856. The onset of the Civil War caused work to cease entirely and was not resumed until 1876 when political stability and funding returned. By that time Robert Mills had died and his successor, Lt.Col.Thomas L.Casey, modified the original design by omitting the base and adding a point to the top of the obelisk. A noticeable color change occurs about 150′ from the foundation of the monument because marble from a different quarry was used to complete construction of the second phase. Construction was finally completed in 1885 and opened to the public in 1888.
The monument is a massive structure weighing 81,120 tons, containing a 15′ thick base, and having 896 interior stairs. It is by far the most visible landmark in Washington D.C. because of its stark white appearance and because of the vertical contrast produced by the 130′ height limit for all D.C. buildings.
If You Go:
The Washington Monument was damaged by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in 2011 and has been closed for repairs indefinitely. Otherwise, the monument is open for daily tours and visitors are able to take an elevator to the observation room at the top of the obelisk. Check the National Park Service website for additional information.
This work by Matt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.