Washington Monument stands near the center of the National Mall; the grounds extend from 14th to 17th sts. and from Constitution to Independence aves. N.W. Is there anyone who cannot identify this instantly recognizable Washington landmark? A wealthy Virginia plantation owner's son, George Washington became a surveyor at age 14, and by the time he was 21 Virginia's royal governor had dispatched him to the Ohio Valley to warn the French to stay out of British territory. After managing Mount Vernon, the family estate, for some 15 years, Washington was made commander in chief of the Colonial troops in 1775 and led the battle for independence from England.
The cornerstone for a monument to honor the first president was laid July 4, 1848. Construction stalled at 152 feet due to a lack of funds, and it was not until 1884 that a 3,300-pound marble capstone, topped with a 9-inch pyramid of cast aluminum, was set in place.
This marble obelisk rises just over 555 feet from a knoll in the center of the grounds; its base is surrounded by 50 American flags. An elevator runs to the observation room at the 500-foot level, where eight windows offer spectacular views. The grounds are at their loveliest in early April (most years), when Yoshino cherry trees are covered with clouds of pale pink blossoms.
Note: Tours to the observation room have been discontinued through spring 2019 due to necessary elevator renovations. Phone ahead for updated tour information.