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11 Structures that Define America

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument, a 555-foot-high white obelisk situated at the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., honors George Washington as the first president of the United States and a Revolutionary War hero. Comprised of 36,491 marble, granite, and sandstone blocks, the structure was designed by Robert Mills, a prominent American architect. Construction began in 1848, but due to the outbreak of the Civil War and lack of funding, it took nearly 40 years to complete. It is clearly visible where work resumed in 1876 by the difference in the marble's shading, about 150 feet up the obelisk. The monument was dedicated in 1885, on Washington's birthday, February 22, but did not officially open to the public until October 9, 1888, after the internal construction was complete. At the time it was the world's tallest structure, a title it held only until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris.