On this day (December 6) in 1884 the Washington Monument was completed. The 555-foot, 5-1/8″ marble obelisk honors the nation’s founding father George Washington. The Washington Monument is currently closed for repairs due to an earthquake on August 23, 2011. The monument, like the man, stands in no one’s shadow. The Washington Monument, designed by Robert Mills and eventually completed by Thomas Casey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Built in the shape of an Egyptian obelisk, evoking the timelessness of ancient civilizations, the Washington Monument embodies the awe, respect, and gratitude the nation felt for its most essential Founding Father. When completed, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world. Construction began on the Washington Monument in 1848. That means it took about 40 years to complete!
he cornerstone was laid on July 4 with upwards of 20,000 people in attendance including President James K. Polk, Mrs. James Madison, Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, George Washington Parke Custis, and future presidents Buchanan, Lincoln, and Johnson.
On a breezy December 6, 1884, Lt. Col. Casey supervised as the 3,300-pound capstone was brought out through one of the windows, hoisted to the scaffolding at the dizzying tip of the monument, and set in place. Casey then placed the 8.9-inch aluminum tip atop the capstone to the cheers of the crowd below. The Washington Monument was complete, and it had surpassed the Cologne Cathedral to be the tallest building in the world at 555 feet, 5.125 inches. -NPS