The official grounds of the Washington Monument, including the observation deck, are currently closed due to repairs following damage from an earthquake and hurricane in 2011. Despite the repairs, the monument is still fully visible and visitors are welcome to photograph and admire the monument from the National Mall. The National Park Service has announced the monument will reopen on May 12, 2014 and will at that time once again operate tours to the top of the obolisque.
One of the nation’s most recognizable structures, the Washington Monument is located at the center of the National Mall, in between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, and just east of the Reflecting Pool. The obelisk-shaped memorial is made up of marble, granite and bluestone gneiss. It is the world’s tallest structure made of stone and the tallest obelisk, at 555 feet tall. The National Park Service estimates that more than 800,000 people visit the monument per year.
The Washington Monument was built to honor George Washington, the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first president of the United States. The structure was designed by Robert Mills, with construction beginning in 1848. Construction was halted from 1854 to 1877, due to the Know Nothing Party’s rise to control of the Washington National Monument Society through an illegal election, lack of funding and the Civil War. It was completed in 1884 by Thomas Casey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and an elevator was added to the monument in 1889, which shuttles tourists to the top of the monument to this day. A restoration project was carried out from 1998 to 2002, and a $15 million renovation was completed from 2004-2005. The Monument officially reopened on April 1, 2005.
*Note that the Washington Monument is currently closed for repairs. Details below are subject to change upon the reopening.*
The Washington Monument is free to visit day or night. While the observation deck and the official grounds of the monument are currently inaccessible due to renovations, visitors are able (and encouraged) to witness the monument first-hand. Capture it in photographs, picnic nearby or stroll around the National Mall.
The easiest way to get to the monument is by taking Metro. The two closest Metro stops are Federal Triangle and Smithsonian, both on the blue and orange lines. If traveling by bus, take the DC Circulator’s Union Station-Navy Yard route or ride MetroBus routes 32, 34 or 36. In terms of parking, visitor parking is available on Ohio Drive, between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Note that street parking is often limited in Washington, DC.
The Washington Monument is part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, so at each turn is another recognizable national landmark. The monument is anchored at the center of the National Mall, situated between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, two other very popular visitor spots. The Reflecting Pool is also within walking distance, as are the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
- At the time of its completion, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world.
- There are 36,491 total blocks in the monument.
- The Washington Monument weighs 81,120 tons.
- There is a noticeable color change in the blocks at the 150 foot mark, where construction slowed in 1854.
- In the interior walls, there are 193 commemorative stones presented by individuals, societies, States, cities and nations from around the world.