American History

#OTD 1884: Marble Capstone & Pyramid of Cast Aluminium Placed on Washing Monument Completing the Egyptian Obelisk

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.06: 2022:

#AceHistoryDesk – Today in History – On December 6, 1884, workers placed the 3,300-pound marble capstone on the Washington Monument and topped it with a nine-inch pyramid of cast aluminum, completing construction of the 555-foot Egyptian obelisk.

Washington Monument. Horydczak on Top of Washington Monument I. ca. 1920-1950. Horydczak Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

Nearly fifty years earlier, the Washington National Monument Society chose Robert Mills‘ design to honor first American president and founding father George Washington. The privately funded organization laid the monument’s cornerstone on Independence Day, 1848, in Washington, D.C.

For twenty years, lack of funds and loss of support for the Washington National Monument Society left the obelisk incomplete at a height of about 156 feet. Finally, in 1876, President Ulysses Grant authorized the federal government to finish construction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took over the project two years later.

Aerial View of Washington Monument… Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, September 20, 2006. Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive. Prints & Photographs Division

Day and night, spring through winter, the Washington Monument is a focal point of the National Mall and a center of celebrations including concerts and the annual Independence Day fireworks display. The observation deck affords spectacular panoramic views of the nation’s capital.

When construction was completed in 1884, the Washington Monument was the world’s tallest masonry structure. Today, the approximately 36,000-stacked blocks of granite and marble compose the world’s tallest freestanding masonry structure. In a city of monuments, locals refer to the obelisk as “The Monument.” By law—District of Columbia building code–it will remain the tallest structure in Washington, D.C., dominating the skyline and accenting Pierre-Charles L’Enfant’s plan for the city.

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