Commemorating the first president of the United States, George Washington, the Washington Monument is a large Egyptian obelisk made of marble, granite, and sandstone near the center of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Standing at 555 feet and 5 inches, the monument is the world’s tallest stone structure, and the highest structure in Washington, D.C. Designed initially by architect Robert Mills in the 1830s, the construction of the monument began in 1848 with the laying of the cornerstone on July 4 of that year but was not finished until 1884, nearly 30 years after the architect’s death.
During construction, the Society invited states and private organizations to donate stones that could be used for the construction of the Washington Monument. Problems arose when a stone was donated by Pope Pius IX. An anti-catholic American party, the Know-Nothings, stole the stone and took over control of the Washington National Monument Society. Congress, which was to donate $200,000 for the construction refused to fund the politicized Society. Public support for the monument started to dwindle and the Know Nothings were unable to collect money to finish the obelisk. They returned the control of the project back in 1858 to the original supporters of the Society but due to the Civil War, construction of the monument was halted. Only 152 ft / 46m was completed.
In 1876, at the centennial of the Declaration of Independence, Congress approved a contribution of $200,000. In 1879 construction resumed under the supervision of Lt. Colonel Thomas L. Casey and four years later the monument was completed. The rather flat top was changed into a pyramidal one. The tip of the pyramid top was made in aluminum, at the time a rare and precious metal. The point at which construction was halted in 1858 is still visible as a different quarry was used after the resumption of the works. The stones above 152ft have a darker tone of color than the original. The Washington Monument is located at the National Mall. It is surrounded by flagpoles, with each flag representing one state. The monument is open to the public; an elevator brings you to the observatory at the top of the obelisk from where you have a magnificent view over all of Washington.