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Washington Monument

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Washington Monument © eschipul via Flickr

Overview:

The Washington Monument is the most prominent structure in Washington, D.C. and one of the city's early attractions. It was built in honor of George Washington and is shaped like an Egyptian obelisk. The monument stands 555' 5 1/8" tall and offers views in excess of thirty miles.

History:

The Washington Monument was created to honor the country’s first President, George Washington. In 1833, a group of citizens founded the Washington National Monument Society, a private organization dedicated to building the monument. In 1836 they invited American architects to submit designs for the structure. The winner was selected in 1845 and it was Robert Mills' neoclassical design that was chosen. It featured a 500-foot obelisk, a 110-foot Greek temple with colonnades, and statuary of Washington driving a chariot of Arabian horses. Due to the high cost involved, this design was eventually discarded, except for the obelisk.

By 1848, the Washington National Monument Society collected $230,000 for the project and the cornerstone was laid on July 4th of that year. It included a time capsule containing statistics on Washington DC, newspapers, coins and currency, a Bible, and information on the Washington family. In 1876 Congress appropriated sufficient funds for completion of the project, and the work was taken over and finished by the US Army Corps of Engineers in December of 1884. Standing as the world's tallest building, the Washington Monument was dedicated in 1885 at a ceremony on the Mall.

When to Visit:

The Washington Monument is open daily except July 4 and December 25. Summer hours occur from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (end of May through early September) with the last tour beginning before 9:45 p.m. During the rest of the year, hours run 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. with the last tour beginning before 4:45 p.m.

Note: As of May 29th, 2012, The National Park Service has closed the monument for repairs caused by the August 23, 2011 earthquake.

Getting There:

For visitors driving into Washington, D.C., keep in mind that parking is limited and can get expensive. Public transportation is a great option. However, Interstate 395 provides access to the National Mall and Memorial Parks from the South. Interstate 495, New York Avenue, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Cabin John Parkway will all provide access from the North. Interstate 66, U.S. Routes 50 and 29 provide access from the West, while U.S. Routes 50, 1, and 4 provide access from the East.

If you really want to limit your carbon footprint, there are many major bicycle trails that flow through Washington, D.C. There are also several Metro train and bus routes from the suburban areas surrounding the city.

If you are flying in from out of town, there are three major airports that serve the area: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. All have limousine, taxi, or Metro services available that will connect with the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Fees/Permits:

There are no fees or permits required to visit the park. However, if you are planning a special event, such as a demonstration or would like to get permission for filming or photography, the National Mall & Memorial Parks Division of Parks Programs does issue 4,000 permits a year for special use. You will need to apply for a special permit, which typically costs $50. Call (202) 245-4715 for more information.

Thing to Do:

The memorial is located within the National Mall which holds many amazing sites to visit, including: Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, D.C. War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, East and West Potomac Parks, and Constitution Gardens. There are also 60 statues, and numerous other historic sites, memorials, and park lands to explore.

Accommodations:

There is no lodging within the National Mall & Memorial Parks. However, Washington, D.C. has many hotel, motels, and lodging to choose from.

Pets:

Pets are not allowed inside the Washington Monument, the Jefferson, Lincoln, and World War II Memorials, except for guide dogs for visually or hearing-impaired persons. Pets are allowed in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial if they are leashed. Keep your pet restrained at all times by crating, caging or on a leash no more than six feet in length. Also be sure to respectful of the parks and clean up any waste.

Areas of Interest Outside the Park:

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site: On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was shot while attending a show here. Museum contains portions of the Olroyd Collection of Lincolniana.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park: Preserving America's colorful Canal era and transportation history, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is 184.5 miles of adventure.

Anacostia Park: Anacostia Park is one of Washington, DC's largest recreation areas with more than 1200 acres stretching along the Anacostia River from the Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge to the DC/Maryland border.

Rock Creek Park: One of the largest and oldest urban parks in the U.S. (established in 1890), located in Washington, DC.

Contact Info:

By Mail:
900 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20024

Phone:
(202) 426-6841

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