The Washington Monument is an obelisk (stone pillar used as a monument or landmark) that is located in Washington D.C in the United States of America. It is there to commemorate the first president of the United States, General George Washington. It is the world’s tallest obelisk standing at just over 169m (555 feet). It is also the world’s largest stone structure. The monument is made of marble, granite and bluestone gneiss and is topped with an aluminum pyramid shaped spire. Construction began on the monument in 1848, but it was not until 1884 that the obelisk was completed. The monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. For many years it was the world’s tallest structure until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1889.
Who designed the Washington Monument?
After many years of discussion the Washington National Monument Society was formed in 1832, 100 years after the birth of General George Washington, with the purpose of facilitating the erection of a monument in his honor. They worked to raise money for the construction and announced a competition for the design of the monument. The Washington National Monument Society gave the condition that the monument must reflect the nature of General George Washington.
The competition was held in 1836 and the winning architect was Robert Mills. His design featured a tall obelisk with a statue of the first president at the top. It also featured a colonnade that would have the statues of 30 famous revolutionary war heroes at the bottom of the obelisk. The design was considered ambitious and the Washington National Monument Society decided to begin construction of the obelisk in an effort to raise more money to complete the entire structure.
The cornerstone was laid on the 4th of July 1848 and work progressed until 1854 at which time the Washington National Monument Society had no more money and donations had run out. Much political squabbling and the civil war halted all work on the monument until 1879. There was much argument about the design of the monument and many people submitted new designs. The Washington National Monument Society finally decided to build the obelisk so that it conformed to classic Egyptian proportions. The colonnade was abandoned and an aluminium apex was used for the top rather than a statue of the first president.