America's national monument, the Washington Monument, Washington DC

The Washington Monument

A brief history;

 

  • The Washington Monument honours the nation's first president, George Washington.

 

  • The national monument was designed by Robert Mills whose original design called for a 600-foot Egyptian styled obelisk which would have thirty 100-foot columns encircling the base.

 

  • During the construction of the monument there were a number of complications and the design had to be scaled back between the two building phases because of a lack of funding.

 

  • The original architect Robert Mills died in 1855 and never saw the completion of his design.

 

  • Lt. Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey & the U.S Army Corps of Engineers were chosen to resume the construction and complete the monument.

 

  • Time pressure & lack of funds meant that the design had to be scaled back, the height was changed from the original 600-feet to the optimum height of 555-feet, to accommodate for ten times the width of the base and the ring of columns were scrapped.

 

 

The Washington Monument had two distinct phases of construction.

 

First Phase;

 

  • Construction began in 1848 despite great difficulties in raising the necessary funds, by 1854 the monument had reached a height of 156-feet above ground, but as donors funds to the Washington National Monument Society came to a halt so did the building of the national monument, stopping completely in 1858.

 

  • President Ulysses S. Grant, in 1876, in a joint resolution approved an act authorising the government to finish the project.

 

  • The monument stood only partially finished for over two decades until 1878, when Lt. Col. Thomas Casey & the U.S Army Corps of Engineers assumed control of the completing the monument, which simplified the original design of Robert Mills.

 

Second Phase;

 

  • Before construction could begin again the masons needed a supply of stone, unfortunately the stone that was quarried from nearby Baltimore for the first phase was no longer available. A suitable match to the original stone was difficult to find but builders settled on a stone quarried in Massachusetts, but problems became evident with the quality & colour of the stone soon after.

 

  • After the addition of several courses of the stone from Massachusetts which left behind a brown-streak of beltline a third of the way up the monument, the builders turned their attention to a third quarry in Baltimore that proved more reliable, and that was the stone used for the last two-thirds of the structure.

 

  • The stone never quite matched the original, leaving three slightly different bands of colour which is still distinguistable today.

 

  • To crown the monument a 3,300-pound marble capstone was placed on the obelisk and topped with a 9-inch pyramid of cast aluminium.

 

  • The monument was finally dedicated on February 21st, 1885.

If you would like to see more photographs at full-size and resolution please visit my photography portfolio at Fotolia by Adobe Stock by clicking on the link provided;

 

Fotolia

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If you would like to see more of my photography from Washington, D.C, please visit these galleries;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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