Few monuments are as iconic of Washington, DC as the Washington Monument. Built over several decades in the mid 1800’s, it stood as the tallest structure on earth for four years (surpassed by the Eiffel Tower) and remains the world’s tallest free-standing masonry structure.
It was damaged in the 2011 Virginia earthquake, and has been closed for almost three years now. Yesterday the monument re-opened, and we managed to get in on the second tour!
While tickets are normally reserved online, for the re-opening they were available on a first-come-first-served basis. We got down there nice and early, lining up at the monument kiosk/center. Half an hour later we had tickets in hand for 1:30, and several hours to kill.
We first headed down to the Lincoln Memorial. Located about a mile west of the Washington Monument, with the WWII memorial and reflecting pool directly in between, it’s a pleasant walk in good weather. The Lincoln Memorial itself is extremely impressive, and the massive amount of stone creates for a naturally cool interior where you can see the famous statue.
Even from there, the Washington Monument looms across the reflecting pool.
We visited the National History Museum, the Smithsonian Castle, and got some lunch at Good Stuff (by the capitol building). After that it was time to head back for the tour, and after some security checks and ranger instructions we were inside! While you used to walk all the way to the top (if this is still offered, I want to do it sometime), you now take an elevator up the middle of the column.
The view from the top was spectacular. In an area where you normally can’t see for any great distance, we were able to spot buildings and landmarks over ten miles away (nothing compared to Arizona or Utah distances, but for the East coast it’s a long way).
It was a really incredible experience, if you’re ever in DC I recommend you get some tickets. It was my first time, but I hope it won’t be my last.