The Washington Monument Washington DC, A fitting memorial to a towering man

How would you like to be remembered? Well this is how this city remembers its founding father, George Washington. With a soaring obelisk of marble, bluestone gneiss and granite. It’s the world’s tallest obelisk, and the world’s tallest stone structure, come to that. It was designed by Robert Mills, who sadly didn’t live long enough to see its completion in 1888.

There’s an elevator to the top of the monument. The original elevator ride took 20 minutes, and only men were allowed. Women and children had to take the stairs! Now it’s open to all comers, but on a first come, first served basis. So if you want to get some stunning views of the Smithsonian Museum and beyond, you’ll have to get here early to pick up your free tickets.

The very top

Right at the top of the Monument sits an aluminium apex. When it was made, aluminum was as rare as silver. It was put on display at Tiffany’s in New York City. Visitors would step over it so they could say they had stepped over the top of the Washington Monument. Following lightning damage, the apex is now blunt at the end.

Memorial stones

States, cities and individuals contributed carved memorial stones, which are all inserted into the east and west interior walls. Look out for the stone donated by the Tunisian town of Carthage. It was lost for almost a century, but then found again in 1951 at the bottom of a lift shaft.

Other interesting facts about The Washington Monument

  • The Monument has 36,491 blocks and weighs 90,854 tonnes
  • Construction was stopped in 1858 – you can tell because the stones used above 152 are a darker color
  • Taking the stairs? You’ll have 897 steps to climb