Washington Monument Facts

Washington Monument Facts
The Washington Monument was built to honor George Washington, who was the first American president. It is built in Washington, D.C., beginning in 1848. Construction was completed in 1884, despite a temporary halt from 1854 to 1879 due to lack of funds, and the American Civil War, among other issues. The monument was officially opened on October, 9th, 1888, although it was dedicated on February 21, 1885. Once it was completed it was the world's tallest structure. In 1889, the Eiffel Tower was completed and took the title of the world's tallest structure.
Interesting Washington Monument Facts:
Although the monument was meant to honor George Washington, the first president, it was not completed until the 21st president was already in office.
The monument was being planned in 1783, even before George Washington became president. It was being planned as a way to honor Washington as commander-in-chief of the American army during the Revolutionary War.
When George became president he didn't want to use public money for the monument and killed the project.
George Washington died in 1799, and in 1833, a group began to raise money for the monument. They called themselves the Washington National Monument Society.
Chief Justice John Marshall held a competition for the monument design and chose Robert Mills' design.
Robert Mills also designed the U.S. Patent Office and the U.S. Treasury Building.
The final design of the Washington Monument was quite different from Robert Mills' design.
The monument's cornerstone included a portrait of George Washington, U.S. coins, a copy of the Constitution and newspapers.
Abraham Lincoln, a congressman at the time, attended the ceremony to lay the cornerstone on July 4th, 1848.
In 1854, money ran low and construction stopped. The monument was about 150 feet high at that point.
Aside from money issues, and the Civil War, construction was halted because anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant activists called Know Nothings were opposed to the Pope Pius IX's donation of black stone for the monument.
President Ulysses Grant ensured that the project continued, beginning again in 1879, by authorizing the use of federal funds for the completion.
At this point, Robert Mills' design changed a lot because of new architectural tastes.
When the construction was completed, and it opened to the public in 1888, it was just over 555 feet tall and weighed more than 81,000 tons.
The monument has 50 flights of stairs.
The monument was once used during a hostage taking. In 1982, a Navy veteran parked his van, with a reported 1,000 pounds of dynamite inside, at the base of the monument. There was a group of tourist stuck inside the monument for hours. When it was over, the Navy vet was shot dead and there were no explosives in his vehicle.
There are many memorials to George Washington, including schools, mountains, highways and cities and one state.
There is another monument in Baltimore named for Washington that was also designed by Robert Mills.
An earthquake in 2011 damaged the monument and it has been closed for repair. It is estimated it will cost $15 million and will be reopened in 2014.

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