One of Washington DC's earliest tourist destinations was the Washington Monument. It's located on the National Mall at the west end of the Reflecting Pool and opposite of the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument in its simple sandstone, granite and marble design is a striking and highly recognizable tribute to George Washington.
One of the basic ideas behind creating a monument for George Washington was the idea that gratitude and respect should be dramatically expressed for what he contributed in creating a republic where all people are equal.
Most people know that the Washington Monument is to honor George Washington as the United States first president. He was elected in a unanimous vote, and the founding founding Father of this country, but his achievements do not stop there as George Washington was really remarkable in a number of ways. As described by Abigail Adams, wife of the John Adams, Washington was "polite with dignity, affable without familiarity, distant without haughtiness, grave without austerity, modest, wise, and good." These may be her words, but the observations were the opinion of many people of his time.
Even during Washington's lifetime, there was much talk of how to honor him, but the end result would come many years after his death. The Washington National Monument Society began fundraising in 1832 on what would have been Washington's 100th birthday. Subsequently, competitions were held and design was chosen. The original design does differ from the completed design. In the original design, the base of the obelisk was colonnaded and containing statues of Revolutionary War heroes. Then there was the inclusion of a statue of Washington on a chariot.
The final design of the Washington Monument was patterned after the Egyptian obelisk. Construction began, but there were a number of delays that spanned several decades, and in the end the monument was completed by the Army Corp of Engineers. The pyramid point at the top of the monument is cast aluminum, which at that time was considered a rare metal and more expensive then silver. The construction of DC's first tribute to a president was completed in 1884, and fast became a popular site for visitors.
The Washington Monument was such a draw for visitors that even before the 20th century, tens of thousands of visitors had gone to the top. Currently, the Washington Monument draws hundreds of thousands each year.
The Washington Monument is still the tallest stone structure in the world, as well as the largest obelisk. In the DC area, it's the tallest structure at the impressive height of over 555 feet, and can be seen from miles away. A trip to the top offers visitors spectacular views of up to thirty miles if weather conditions are compliant. If you're in the DC area, then make sure you take time for the Washington Monument.