VIDEO/ Views of the Washington Monument
Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart
December 6th is the anniversary of the completion of the Washington Monument, which was finished in 1884. The symbolic monument, made of marble, granite and bluestone gneiss, honors the Father and first President of the United States, George Washington. It is the tallest obelisk in the world, at more than 555 feet (169 meters) tall. It is also the world’s tallest stone structure.
George Washington is legendary among the U.S. Presidents. He led the country, before it was a country, to victory over Great Britain as the Commander in Chief in the American Revolution. He presided over the writing of the Constitution, and he was unanimously chosen to act as the country’s first President. He set the important precedent of a two term presidency by famously stepping down after eight years, while begging his successors to remain united.
Right after his death, people were eager to build a monument to him, but there was much disagreement over the form and placement. Finally, in 1832, proceedings for the monument began to go forward, starting with a competition to design the monument, which was won by Robert Mills. The original design, by Mills, included a colonnade around the bottom of the obelisk, with a statue of George Washington in a chariot on top. This plan was eventually modified, and reduced to just the obelisk. The Monument, which stands on the National Mall, opposite the Lincoln Memorial, was begun in 1848. The cornerstone was put in on July 4, 1848, but the monument wasn’t completed until 1884 because of a lack of funds and then the events of the American Civil War.
At the time of its completion, the Washington monument was the tallest structure in the world. It held that title until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was built in Paris. It contains an elevator so that visitors can go to the top for an amazing view of Washington D.C., and over 800,000 people visit the monument each year.
Unfortunately, the monument is now closed to visitors because of the damage it sustained in the earthquake on August 23, 2011 in the capital. The structure is being carefully monitored and repaired and probably will not reopen for another year.