Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fun facts and history of the Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is the most visible landmark in the District. It was built to commemorate and honor George Washington. Born in 1732 in Virginia's Westmoreland County, throughout the course of his lifetime, Washington would wear a lot of different hats. 

Living History: General Washington
However, what might be surprising to many people is that he primarily considered himself a farmer, despite the fact he is best known in history as the man who led the colonies to independence and served as the first United States President. 

President Washington established the concept of a 2-term limit on the U.S. presidency because he didn’t want to see the presidents become a monarchy; this is an important piece of U.S. history and helped shape the established leadership which still exists to this day (although the 2-term has since become law).
Due to Washington's major contributions to America, it was decided a monument would be built to honor him. 

"With this monument, the citizens of the United States show their enduring gratitude and respect." (Source: National Parks Service brochure obtained at the moment during my Feb. 2015 visit).

The monument was originally supposed to have a different design which would have included statutes surrounding the base of the monument, however, the open space we currently see with American flags circling the monument was what was eventually decided.

This photo was taken when the monument was closed to visitors due to damage created by the 2011 earthquake (link displays my photos showing progress in the restoration)

Construction of the monument began in 1848 and over the next 10 years grew to be 156 feet tall. In 1858 the project was halted due to lack of funding. Fast forward to 1876 and President Ulysses S. Grant approved federal funding to complete the monument. The monument was finally finished in December 1884. A dedication ceremony took place on Feb. 21, 1885. 

The Washington Monument stands at
555 feet, 5 1/8 inches tall and, when at the top, you can see a good distance in clear weather (I can't say for sure, but I read somewhere a while back you could see 30+ miles). Being the monument can be seen from all over the District and points beyond, this is not surprising.
In this photo, you can see the line where construction had stopped in 1858. As the stone was taken from different sources, it weathered differently over the decades giving the monument this "two-tone" look.

Every year many visitors come to view the monument; many will also get tickets to take an elevator ride to the top. If you have this opportunity, I highly recommend it! My blog post linked below provides more information on how to get tickets and you can see some additional views.  

View of the Jefferson Memorial from atop the Washington Monument

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