Facts About the Washington Monument That'll Leave You Speechless

Washington Monument construction timeline
The Washington Monument was created with the concept of thanking George Washington for helping carve a new kind of republic country, where all men are treated equal. This article reveals some truly interesting facts about the world's tallest stone structure.
Did You Know?
At the top of the Washington Monument, on the aluminum cap, are these words inscribed in Latin -- "Laus Deo" which means, "Praise be to God".

The Washington monument was built to honor George Washington, who was regarded as the father of the United States of America, and represented its constitution and liberty. He led the Continental Army to victory in the War for Independence against Great Britain in 1789. In the same year, he was unanimously elected as the first president of the United States of America.

Here's a quick look at the intricate features of this monument that was constructed in commemoration of General George Washington.

A Prodigy's Construct

Construction: 1848-1884
Official Opening: Oct 9, 1888
Number of Steps: 897 steps
Total Cost: $1,187,710
Architect Name: Robert Mills
Height: 555 feet, 51/8 inches
Elevator Travel Time: 70 s
Number of Visitors: 867,550/year

Composed of: Granite, marble, aluminum (for the apex/cap) and bluestone.
Damages: This monument will remain closed until 2014, because of the damages caused by Virginia earthquake on August 23, 2011.

Interesting Facts

» In 1783, the Congress approved an equestrian statue of George Washington that was designed by Pierre Charles l'Enfant. This plan never took off and in 1833, i.e., on the 100th anniversary of George Washington's birth, the Washington National Monument Society was created by James Madison and John Marshall with the purpose of creating a monument in memory of George Washington.
» They wanted to construct the largest monument in the world with dimensions and magnificence that would be proportionate to the greatness of George Washington and also the gratitude that the people of United States felt towards him. The society began a fundraising campaign to construct the monument.
» At the beginning, the society allowed each person to contribute only $1. By 1836, the society had been able to raise only $28,000. Although it was not enough to construct any monument, it was enough to hold a competition for the design, which is exactly what the society did.
» The design competition that was held in 1836 was won by Robert Mills, who was an architect by profession. As per his designs, the monument would radiate simplicity and grandeur together just like George Washington. The design was a simple obelisk that was to be built as the centerpiece of the National Mall surrounded by flagpoles, with each flag representing a flag of the state.
» The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848 and also includes the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. The same trowel was made use of that George Washington had used, to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol way back in 1793. Thousands gathered around the construction site to celebrate the moment.
» The Washington Monument height was proposed at 555 feet and 5.1 inches while the width would be 55 feet and 1.5 inches. The walls of the monument were 15 feet (4.6 m) -- thick at the bottom and 18 inches at the top. The walls were covered with white marble that was brought in from Maryland.
» Once the estimated cost was calculated, the society removed the limit of contribution per head. The society was able to collect $88,000 quickly and the construction took off. The total cost of building the monument was $1,187,710.
» In 1854, when the monument stood 150 feet tall, the Society ran out of funds and the construction ceased. Early in 1855, the Know Nothing Party gained control and continued the construction for three years during which another 4 feet of the monument were built. However, the Know Nothing Party gave up, and the construction was stopped for about 20 years, with the Civil War also contributing its share to the delay. The point at which the construction was stopped can be identified by the stones used above 150-154 feet. It has a darker tone of color when compared to the original ones.
» Interest in the Washington Monument was renewed in 1876, during the first centennial of the United States. The then President, Ulysses S. Grant, signed a bill approving government funding to complete the construction. But it was in 1878, that the Army Corps of Engineers took over the project, and resumed construction. They completed the construction in December 1884, and the monument was officially declared open on October 9, 1888.
» While the monument is hollow on the inside, the inner walls are set with 189 memorial stones that are carved and presented by individuals, cities, states, societies, high dignitaries, and other countries. There are 3 floors in the memorial with messages, Bible verses and prayers shared on the 12th, 20th and 24th floor.

The Bible verses quoted were from:
  • The Book of Proverbs 10:7 - "The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot."

  • Luke 18:16 - "But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

  • Book of Proverbs 22:6 - "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

» The construction of the monument was completed 30 years after the death of its architect, Robert Mills. It was officially dedicated to George Washington a day before his birthday in 1885. But it was only in 1888 that the public were allowed to enter the monument, as the work was incomplete on the interior of the monument.

I have always been an ardent admirer of George Washington and the way in which he led his life. I would like to end this article with his thought on friendship and valor - "Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation."
Advertisement