Washington Monument

Reading this week:

  • Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

Like I mentioned last week, my super amazing girlfriend’s absolute best friend in the whole wide world was visiting last week, so we were out on the town looking at stuff. One of those stuffs was the Washington Monument!

Now, you see, I grew up over near Annapolis, so I had been to DC plenty of times back in the heady days of my youth. I would see commercials on like, Nickelodeon for contests where you could win a trip to DC and I thought that was a bit of a lame prize because we would go there for field trips, you know? (Despite the regularity, sometimes it didn’t go well; I remember one time we got to the Natural History Museum at 0830 only for the teacher to discover only at that moment the Smithsonian Museums don’t open until 10) However, despite the regularity of my visits to DC, one thing I had never done (among many things, actually) was go up to the top of the Washington Monument.

This is not for lack of trying! It’s just mostly due to lack of trying. Back in the ole’ days, you had to line up for tickets. They were first come first serve, which meant you had to be one of the first however many people in the line, which meant you had to get there early. I did try to do this once. It took forever for me to find parking that day, but I got in line, and the line started moving, and when I was finally three people away from the window they had run out of tickets. This was very sad for me, clearly. But mostly I had just never tried.

But since my super amazing girlfriend’s best friend was in town, they did try, and lo and behold, they got four tickets! Super neat! We showed up at our appointed time, went through security, quickly admired a statue of George Washington, got in the elevator, and head to the top!

The first and stupidest thing I learned is that the windows look at lot bigger up close than they do from the bottom. I thought they were very tiny. They are small, but not tiny. See? Stupid. There are actually two floors at the top, the 500′ level and the 490′ level. The 500′ level has the windows and you can look out and admire the city. I put those pictures at the bottom. It is a pretty excellent way to see DC all at once (well in four chunks, one for each direction) and you can spend as much time up there as you want. I was like “I can spot my workplace from here!” and “I can spot my house from here!” and “wow the White House has more trees on its grounds than I thought!” You know, deep things like that. It was pretty neat.

After you are done with the 500′ foot level, you descend some stairs to the 490′ level and there is a very tiny museum thingy. There’s not a whole lot there, but the single most interesting thing for me was the above model, which shows how the monument’s very top is constructed. I hadn’t ever thought about it, but the monument is entirely stone (they claim to be the tallest freestanding stone structure in the world, which is neat!) and I was impressed how they did the masonry to put the top together, as demonstrated in the model above. It is also from the 490′ level that you catch the elevator down. Taking the stairs was not an option, though in the elevator on both the way up and down they have a presentation, and on the way down they pause twice to let you look at some of the carved stones on the inside. So that was cool! Having taken the elevator down, we were discharged (you have to go elsewhere for the gift shop), having gained a whole new perspective on this city I’ve been visiting for my whole life.

The mall, Smithsonian Museums, Capitol, etc.
My house is off to the left, beyond Reagan Airport. The tidal basin looked nice!
I discovered my phone could do wide-angle shots, so that’s neat. Look at all the trees by the White House! The State Department is off to the left. The bit with the trees in the background on the right and center is Maryland!