The Washington Memorial is located in the center of the National Mall between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Free tickets are distributed to be used on the same day at the kiosk on the Washington Monument grounds at 15th Street and Jefferson Drive on a first-come first-served basis. Hours for the ticket kiosk are 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, but tickets run out early. Hours for the Washington Monument are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; All persons entering the Washington Memorial go through a security check similar to the ones at airports. Personal items are X-rayed, and everyone has to go through metal detectors. The Smithsonian Metro is the closest subway stop to the Washington Monument. The Washington monument was closed to visitors after it was damaged by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 23, 2011.
Around the base of the Washington Monument there are 56 flags, one for each state and six for the 6 territories of the USA. The World War II memorial and the Lincoln Memorial can be seen to the west.
The initial plan for a monument to honor George Washington was proposed in 1783 by Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant who was the architect and planner of the city of Washington, D.C. The monument was built between 1848 and 1884. The cornerstone was laid on the 4th of July 1848. Construction stopped because of the Civil War in 1856 when the monument was at the 152-foot level. Twenty seven years later, work resumed from 1876 to 1884, but with some design changes. The hiatus in construction is responsible for the difference in the color of the stone. The monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, and opened to the public on October 9, 1888. The Washington Memorial was cleaned and restored from 1996 to 2000.
The Washington Monument has a height of 555 feet, 5-1/8 inches. The white marble walls underlain by granite range in thickness from 15 feet at the base to 18 inches at the upper shaft. A flight of 897 steps rises to the observation area in the pyramidion. The interior walls contain 192 carved stones presented by individuals, societies, cities, States, and nations of the world. An elevator takes visitors to the top, where they can gaze over the city from the monument's windows. The following photograph shows how people crowd in the narrow corridors of the Washington Monument to take the elevator to the top.
The interior of the Washington Monument is somewhat claustrophobic and people gather along the eight little observation windows waiting for their turn to take photographs and look at the city from the top of the monument.
The view to the north of the Washington monument includes the White House and The Ellipse, a large field where the national Christmas tree is displayed. The large building with the red roof and the Doric columns is the Herbert C. Hoover Building which is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The U.S. Capitol can be seen to the east of the Washington Monument. Along the left and right sides of the National Mall are the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Castle, the Air and Space Museum, and many other famous landmarks.
The view to the south of the Washington Memorial includes the Jefferson Memorial along the Tidal Basin. In the springtime, the flowering cherry trees are a great attraction for tourists. Beyond the Jefferson Memorial is the Potomac River and the 14th Street Bridge into Virginia.
To the west of the Washington Memorial is the circular World War II memorial, the reflecting pool, and the Lincoln Memorial. Beyond the Lincoln Memorial a bridge spans the Potomac toward the Arlington National Cemetery.