The most prominent building in Washington DC’s skyline is the Washington Monument which finished construction in 1884.
Since I went to the top of the Washington Monument for the reopening I learned quite a bit about the history of this National landmark.
Table of contents
This monument has tons of history but here are 13 of the most interesting Washington Monument facts.
Washington Monument Facts
- The Monument is built of free-standing masonry which means there is no cement holding the blocks together.
- The original elevator ride took 8-10 minutes (A common myth is that the elevator ride was deemed unsafe for women & children when it opened to the public).
- There are 896 steps to the top of the Washington Monument.
- The stairs were closed to visitors going up in 1971 and going down in 1976 due to vandalism and safety concerns. Since then there have been ranger led groups down the stairs but due to staffing issues conditions this is often prevented years at a time. To allow visitors to see the inside of the Monument the windows of the elevator defog at certain points to add to the experience. An elevator worker once ran up the stairs in 11 minutes while doing repairs in 1959.
- The cap at the tip of the Monument is made out of aluminum which was a new and rare process at the time.
- DC’s height law states that no building can be built more than 20 times taller than the width of the street in front of it or 160 feet, whichever is shorter. Making the Washington Monument is the tallest building in DC (since it doesn’t follow this restriction).
- The view from the top includes views over 30 miles away.
- When originally built, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world at 555 feet tall. This record was broken in 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was built.
- The color of the marble changes at the 152 foot mark. Construction was halted due to a lack of funding; when construction started again they used marble from a different quarry.
- Three different types of stones were used to build the Monument; including stones from Maryland (north of Baltimore) and Massachusetts.
- It cost $1,187,710 to build the Monument which is equivalent to $30 million dollars in today’s currency.
- The trowel used to lay the cornerstone of the Monument was the same trowel used by George Washington to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol in 1793.
- The original design by Robert Mills for the Washington Monument included 30 stone columns and statues of Declaration of Independence signers.
How to Get Washington Monument Tickets
Now that you know the Washington Monument facts, of course you want tickets to the top.
If you’re planning a sightseeing visit to Washington D.C. you’ll want to get tickets here. If you don’t have tickets in advance you can always show up early for tickets at the Monument Lodge on 15th Street. For more information about tickets visit the National Park Service’s website.
Experiencing the tallest building in DC is a must if you want to get the most out of DC’s attractions.
Why Was The Washington Monument Built?
Construction on the Washington Monument started in 1848 to act as a tribute to George Washington’s military leadership during the American Revolution. As stated previously the monument was completed construction in 1884.
Quick Washington Monument Facts
Address: 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Height: 554 ft 7 in
Width at Base: 55 ft
Stones Used: Over 36,000
Materials: Marble, Granite, and Bluestone Gneiss
Opened: February 21, 1885
Architect: Robert Mills
Photos of the Washington Monument
After visiting the Monument hundreds of times here are my favorite photos I’ve taken of the Washington Monument. It’s hard not to love the reflections of the Monument in the Tidal Basin and Reflecting Pool.
These facts have been confirmed by the Department of Interior.