The obelisk was designed by Robert Mills and constructed between 1848 and 1884 and opened to the public in 1888. This article contains interesting facts about one of the most famous landmarks in the United States of America.
Fast Facts about the Washington Monument
Location: 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States
How tall? Height is 555 feet 5 1/8 inches (169.29 meters)
How old? It was built 1848 - 1884
When dedicated? It was dedicated on February 21, 1885
What does it weigh? It weighs 90,854 tons
Admission? Free. Open every day but July 4 and December 25
What was the Cost? The cost was $1,187,710
Date it was opened to the public: October 9, 1888
Name of the Designer: Robert Mills
Facts about Washington Monument
The 555 foot tall obelisk is the tallest building in the District of Columbia and by law, no other building in Washington D.C. is allowed to be taller.
It is open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm during the summer months and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm for the rest of the year
Construction work stopped half way due to lack of funds
Inside the Washington Monument are an elevator and a 897-step stairway.
The outer walls are made of white marble blocks from Maryland and Massachusetts. The obelisk is also made of granite, and sandstone
The interior walls contain 193 memorial stones installed on its east and west interior walls. The memorial stones start at the 30-foot level and continue to the 450-foot level
In 1853, Congress appropriated $50,000 for the erection of an equestrian statue of George Washington by Clark Mills. The statue was made and was placed in the rotunda in 1841, but subsequently removed into the east park of the Capitol
The words "Laus Deo" are inscribed on the aluminum capstone. The words "Laus Deo" comes from the old Latin Mass meaning "Praise be to God!"
Two other inscriptions are "4th July, 1776. Declaration of Independence of the United States of America" and "4th July, 1848. This Corner-Stone Laid of a Monument, by the People of the United States, to the Memory of George Washington."
The walls at the base are 15 feet thick. The Width at base is 55 feet 1 1/2 inches
Views from the top of the structure are in excess of 30 miles
Lightning rods at the top protect the structure from lightning strikes
The total area covered by the monument is 106.01 acres
The obelisk is constructed of white marble ashlar blocks
The Sylvan Theatre was built in 1917 as a natural outdoor theater
The Lodge structure was originally built in 1888 to serve as a waiting room, comfort station, and visitor services station
The Granite Plaza at the base is a large circular Plaza with two concentric rings; the first ring has a diameter of 147 feet and the second ring is 240 feet in diameter.
The obelisk rests on an artificially constructed knoll that was designed to hide the original foundation and to provide additional stability to the soil underpinning it
The ride on the steam elevator took 20 minutes, the modern elevator takes under 1 minute
Significance: It is the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk
Washington Monument Timeline for kids: Timeline and Fact Sheet
1732: George Washington was born in Virginia on February 22, 1732
1791: Major Pierre Charles L‘Enfant submitted the plan for the City of Washington within the District of Columbia
1799: George Washington died on December 14, 1799. During his life he was the military leader during the War of Independence, saw the establishment of the Constitution and became the first President of the United States of America
1833: The Washington Monument National Monument Society, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, was formed to raise funds for a memorial dedicated to the first president
1845: The Society initiated a competition for the design of the memorial and formed a design selection committee that in chose a design by Robert Mills.
1845: The Robert Mills Design: His design consisted of a of a 600-foot-tall, flat-topped obelisk surrounded by a colonnaded rotunda with statues of 30 signers of the Declaration of Independence and featured a sculpture portraying George Washington driving a chariot
1848: Construction began on a simplified version of the design after President James Polk had made available 37 acres of land along the Potomac in the District of Columbia. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848.
1848: The simplified design reduced the size to 500 feet with a series of massive steps leading to the pantheon. The bluestone gneiss foundation was completed in the first year of construction
1854: The walls of the shaft had reached 152 feet above the foundation under the direction of Superintendent William Daugherty. The construction had cost $230,000 and funds ran out so the building work had to be halted
1861: The Civil War broke out and the nation turned its attention to the bloody, bitter conflict. The grounds surrounding the construction were used as a cattle yard for Union troops.
1865: The end of the Civil War and the nation entered the period of reconstruction. Fundraising attempts failed during this turbulent time and the grounds were left as a wasteland
1872: The District Board of Public Works together with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took control of the construction project building gravel roads on the grounds and reclaiming the waste land.
1876: This was the year of the American Centennial to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was the first official World's Fair in the United States and public interest stirred patriots in the country and Congress authorized public funds of $200,000 to continue the project, headed by Lt. Col. Thomas Casey.
1877: Members of the society agreed to abandon the colonnade idea and alter the obelisk so it conformed to classic Egyptian proportions.
1877: Lt. Col. Thomas Casey, working to the new classic obelisk design, had to design and build massive concrete footings under the original foundations with concrete buttresses to tie them together. It was a remarkable feat of engineering.
1878: Thomas Casey then worked with George Marsh the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, to develop a design to create a simple, undecorated obelisk of 500 feet topped by a steeply pitched pyramidion (the uppermost piece, or capstone, of an Egyptian pyramid)
1880: An interior iron structure was installed consisting of eight iron columns to support a steam powered elevator and 898 stairs
1884: The construction of the obelisk was completed. The lightening rod and aluminum pyramidion (capstone) was put in place on December 6, 1884
1885: The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885
1886: Presentation blocks were set in the interior walls, the elevator was installed and the wooden steps were replaced with iron steps
1888: It was opened to the public on October 9, 1888
1901: The National Mall was the centerpiece of the McMillan Plan. In the McMillan plan granite and marble terraces and arcades around the base of the Washington Monument.
1901: The steam-powered elevator was replaced with an electric-powered one
1933: The National Park Service was given jurisdiction over the national landmark
1934: Restoration work began on the structure in a public works project
1958: The base was ringed by an array of permanent flagpoles flying the American flag
1964: Additional restoration work was undertaken on the structure
1998: More restoration work saw the addition of a completely new and modern elevator
2001: A visitor screening facility was added following the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York of September 11, 2001
2011: An earthquake hit Washington D.C. but the obelisk stood the shock
Washington Monument Facts for Kids
The Holy Bible
Constitution of the United States
Declaration of Independence
Portrait of Washington
The Statesman's Manual
Map of the City of Washington
1840 United States Census
All coins of the United States
American Silk Flag
G. Washington's Coat of Arms
Morse's North American Atlas
An American Dollar
1832 American State Papers
American Navigators Log
Letters of John Quincy Adams
1845 Astronomical Observations
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