On Sunday Rob and I set off very early and headed down to DC to get in line for tickets to visit the DC Monument. I'd tried to book them online but there were none available and so our only chance of getting to see the magnificent views of the district from above was to stand in line and hope that we could get on an early tour. Tickets are free and are handed out first come, first serve. We were behind two other guys, and knowing that each person is allowed 6 tickets, I was really hoping that we would still get on the first tour.
We started chatting with our queue buddies and found out that they were from New Jersey and Oregon. We found plenty to talk about and thankfully, the hours ticked by relatively quickly, even though I was acutely aware that I was slowly freezing and getting stiffer and stiffer. The cold was permeating from the glacial granite beneath me up into my feet. We were eventually handed our tickets and made our way up to the monument where we stood in another line. This time we weren't sheltered by a building, and standing on top of a hill, we were soon frozen to the core. We were also made to wait longer because of elevator issues.
Finally we were allowed inside to embrace the wonderful warm heating, and then passed through a scanner. My fingers were frozen so I wasn't able to operate my camera well on the ground floor, hence few photos.
The Washington Monument was the world’s tallest monument for one year until the Eiffel Tower was built. It is still the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk
A catalog of the stones is here.
Someone asked why we weren't allowed to use the stairs any longer. We were told it was due to people touching the stones and wearing them down, but I believe this response is closer to the truth.
Apparently too, if you have your heart set on walking it, walk-down tours are twice
offered daily based on the availability of National Park Rangers, at
10:30 a.m. and Noon. But I'm not sure if that still applies.
, click here.
Other interesting points include the fact that it was once held hostage. 12/8/1982, a 66 year old Navy veteran parked his van at the base of the monument and threatened to blow it up. He allowed visitirs trapped inside to leave, wanting only to draw attention against nuclear weapons. All of nearby DC was evacuated and closed down for about 10 hours. He tried to drive away but was shot dead by police who found no explosives inside the van.
The monument also survived a 5.8 earthquake on 8/23/2011 suffering cracks in its structure with some pieces falling down. It was closed until May 2015 with the repairs costing over $15 million.
We walked to the car to drive in search of hot food, not having had any breakfast that morning, and I looked back up at this pillar which dominates the DC skyline.
At the dedication of the Washington Monument on 2/21/1885, Senator John Sherman said, "It is a fit memorial of the greatest character in human history. It looks down upon scenes most loved by him on earth, the most conspicuous object in a landscape full of objects deeply interesting to the American people. All eyes turn to it, and all hearts feel the inspiration of its beauty, symmetry, and grandeur."