- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Fodor's Washington, D.C. 2014
Washington Monument Review
This beloved landmark closed after a rare but powerful 2011 earthquake in Virginia sent tremors that rattled the mighty monument, leaving visible cracks and structural damage. Fortunately a billionaire history buff stepped forward with $7.5 million to match the National Park Service's $7.5 million budget for repairs. Reconstruction began in 2013 and was scheduled at this writing to last until 2014; but it wouldn't be unusual in Washington for there to be delays.
The 555-foot, 5-inch Washington Monument punctuates the capital like a huge exclamation point.
The monument was part of Pierre L'Enfant's plan for Washington, but his intended location proved to be marshy, so it was moved 100 yards southeast to firmer ground (a stone marker now indicates L'Enfant's original site). Construction began in 1848 and continued, with interruptions, until 1884. Upon its completion, the monument was the world's tallest structure.
Six years into construction, members of the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing Party stole and smashed a block of marble donated by Pope Pius IX. This action, combined with funding shortages and the onset of the Civil War, brought construction to a halt. After the war, building finally resumed, and though the new marble came from the same Maryland quarry as the old, it was taken from a different stratum with a slightly different shade.
When the monument reopens, an elevator will once again whiz to the top of the monument in 70 seconds—a trip that in 1888 took 12 minutes via steam-powered elevator. From the viewing stations at the top you can take in most of the District of Columbia, as well as parts of Maryland and Virginia— but not as far as Bristol, Virginia, the epicenter of the 2011 earthquake.
You can still look down on D.C. at the Old Post Office Pavilion ([E]100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW at 12th St.) or the Washington National Cathedral's Pilgrim Observation Gallery ([E] Massachusetts and Wisconsin Aves. NW).
When the monument reopens, it will use a free timed-ticket system for the elevator ride. A limited number of tickets will be available each day at the marble lodge on 15th Street. In spring and summer, lines are likely to start hours before the monument opens.
Maps below viewing-station windows point out some of Washington's major buildings, but you might want to bring a more detailed map (available at the monument's bookstore).
- Address: 15th St. NW, between Constitution Ave. NW and Independence Ave. SW The Mall, Washington, DC 20024 | Map It
- Phone: 202/426–6841; 877/444–6777 for advance tickets
- Cost: Free; $1.50 service fee per advance ticket
- Hours: Closed until 2014. On reopening, hours will be daily 9–5.
- Website: www.nps.gov/wamo; www.recreation.gov for advance tickets
- Metro Smithsonian.
- Location: The Mall
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
The arts group to which I belong hired a small bus for the above trip. Read more
A photographer friend and I met at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History (woolly mammoth in entry) to see the winning entries of a recent photography contest sponsored by Smithsonian and Epson. Read more
I had a 3 hour layover in Washington, DC and decided to leave the airport and adventure out into the city. Read more
· News & Features
A getaway over Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend (January 17–20, 2014) proposes the perfect remedy ... Read more
From buzzy emerging neighborhoods to a burgeoning culinary scene, here are five reasons to visit Washington,... Read more
Washington, D.C., is a city of trees, with some 300 tree species spread out in its vicinity. Each fall,... Read more