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April 17, 2024

Washington Monument

The Washington National Monument has for many years been at the top of the list of the most sought after US attractions. About 6 million people visit it annually. Despite its impressive size, the obelisk is not able to accommodate everyone, so the line for tickets built in the early morning. Those who were not lucky enough to get a pass have to either wait for the next day or be content with an external inspection of the object. For the sake of truth, it is worth noting that the obelisk looks almost better outside than inside. Hence, tourists who have not been able to get a ticket lose practically nothing, except for the opportunity to examine in detail the carved plates donated by citizens and organizations of the country for the construction of the monument, and visits an observation deck from where a stunning view of the US capital and its surroundings opens.

What to see


The Washington Monument rises in the heart of the Esplanade – a park area where the main museums and government buildings of the United States are located. It is a hollow column, tapering upwards, 169.3 m high, crowned with a 4-sided pyramid made of aluminum with the inscription “Laus Deo”, which in Latin means “Praise be to God.” A column of stones of two shades folded: at the height of about 46 m, light plates replaced by dark ones.

This difference explained by the fact that the monument built on the donations of ordinary citizens and the collection of the necessary amount for the purchase of materials and wages of workers extended for several years. As a result, when it came to acquiring another batch of stone, it turned out that the material of the desired shade no longer mined.

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Around the obelisk, it planned to erect a Greek-style temple with statues of prominent American figures. However, this idea had to be abandoned due to the lack of support from the population and excessive cost. The architect’s only idea, which nevertheless saw the light, is an 8-window observation platform at the top of the monument. You can get on it by stairs or by elevator.

At the end of the construction of the monument, it decided to build a nearby mirror pond. The pond designed in such a way that even on the windiest day, the surface remains untouched. The stele is reflected in it entirely, due to which the effect of “twins” is achieved: it seems that in the center of the Esplanade, not one tower rises, but two identical columns.

Practical information

Address: Washington, two 15th St NW, DC 20007. 

From the airport to them. Dulles can be reached in the city by taxi, Metro 5A or Washington Flyer Coach Services, from T. Marshall airport – by metro bus B30, MARC train (Penn line) or taxi; from R. Reagan Airport – by metro (blue or yellow line).

You can get to the monument by metro (blue or orange line, Smithsonian station) or by bus No. 11Y (14th St & Jefferson Dr) or No. 907, 909, 922 (Independence & 12th SW).

The monument is open daily: from June to August – from 9:00 to 22:00, from September to May – from 9:00 to 17:00 (July 4, December 25 – days off). Admission is free, but there is a pass system (tickets issued at the ticket office at 15th St).

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Washington Monument History: Expectations and Reality

They still argue about what the Washington Monument should look like. And what is available now does not quite correspond to the original plan.

In 1832, it was the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. On this occasion, especially conscious citizens (and there were even more then than now) began, as they would say now, a crowdfunding campaign. Across the country and even beyond its borders, fundraising for the construction of the monument to the great politician began. For three years, I gained, in terms of today’s rate, about $ 800 thousand.

In 1836, a competition held for the construction project. Robert Mills won him – he proposed to erect the world’s tallest obelisk, surrounded by a building with columns. Under the pillar, it was supposed to place a statue of Washington and another 30 heroes of the US War of Independence.

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The project was beautiful, and everyone liked everything about it. In addition to the price. At that time, the cost of materials and work was, again, in terms of about $ 22 million.

The initiative society decided to cut off everything “unnecessary” and begin to build the most prominent part of the monument – the obelisk. It was believed that during the construction process, the Americans would see the process, be inspired, and begin to donate more money, for which everything else was realized. The construction went from 1844 to 1885. During this time, several Christian communities and even the Pope donated slabs to the obelisk. But the matter did not move further.

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Washington Monument and Mirror Pond – situation today

The Washington Monument is located directly opposite the White House, on the site of the National Alley. Until now, it is only an obelisk 169 meters high with a tetrahedral pyramid on top. The monument is hollow, inside there are only stairs and elevators for lifting to the upper tier. There is an observation deck overlooking the four cardinal points.

It was not possible to rebuild the composition even over time, not only due to budgets but also to the design features of the obelisk. Regular polls show that citizens consider him “poor” for the symbol of the US capital, some are even ready to chip in such a thing. More than half of those polled would like to see the arcade planned initially nearby. But this did not develop into an action plan.

Plus all, after the earthquake of 2011, a crack went down the obelisk. If the risk of collapse previously accompanied the extension of something, today it is increasing. It’s better to stand precisely the “pale” monument than the onlooker collapsing on the camera symbol of America’s power. But there is a benefit to this.

To make the obelisk look more elegant, the Mirror Pond built nearby – many can remember it from the scene from the movie “Forrest Gump “. The pond designed in such a way that the water in it does not ripple and does not worry even on a windy day. And since the stele of the monument reflected in water at full height, this creates an additional effect of stability and reliability of the monument and the convictions of Washington and the country itself.

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