Touring the Washington Monument
The Washington monument is the tallest stone structure in the world. It is made from marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. The monument, dedicated to George Washington, is also the world’s tallest obelisk, standing just over 555 feet high.
The original design was for a 600 hundred foot obelisk but it was decided to make the height of the structure ten times the width of the base, meaning the optimal height for the Washington Monument would be 555 feet and not the originally planned 600 feet.
Construction of the monument began in 1848 but wasn’t completed until 36 years later in 1884. At that time, it was the tallest structure in the world. The first stone was laid on July 4th. President Polk was in office at the time. A number of famous people attended that first ceremony including Abraham Lincoln and two other future presidents: Buchanan and Johnson. Also in attendance were Mrs. James Madison, Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington Parke Custis, along with a couple hundred thousand spectators.
In 1854, construction of the Washington monument was halted until 1877 due to the civil war, lack of money and the influence of the Know Nothing party. Three different color bands of stone separating top and bottom is evidence of the halted construction. There are 36,491 blocks in the monument.
In one of the cornerstones, the builders hid some relics from Washington’s time. The hidden objects include a personal portrait, copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, an American flag and newspapers from at least 14 states.
There are 897 steps leading up to the lookout windows which are 500 feet up. You can’t walk up anymore. Everyone must take the elevator.