The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is a 555ft/169m tall obelisk built between 1848 and 1884 in honor of the first
President of the United States, George Washington. It is the tallest free standing masonry structure in the
Washington National Monument Society As early as 1783, when George Washington was still alive,
plans by Pierre Charles l'Enfant for an equestrian statue of Washington were approved by Congress. The
plan was never realized so in 1833, at the 100th anniversary of George Washington's birth, the Washington
National Monument Society was created by James Madison and John Marshall. The purpose of the Society
was to create a memorial for George Washington.
Design competition The Society tried to collect funds for the monument, and in 1836 they held a
competition for designs. The winning architect Robert Mills had already created a monument to Washington
in Baltimore. He won the competition with a design which called for a topped-off 600ft obelisk surrounded by
a circular, 100ft tall colonnade.
Start of Construction The Society had only collected a fraction of the estimated cost of 1 million dollar so
they decided to start construction of the obelisk. The colonnade would be built later.
Finally on the Fourth of July 1848, the cornerstone was laid. The Monument was built on top of a hill on a
37acre site donated by Congress.
Donations and Know Nothings 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 was completed.
Construction Resumes In 1876, at the centennial of the Declaration of Independence, Congress approved
a contribution of $200,000. The design of the monument was simplified: it was decided the colonnade would
not be built and the obelisk would keep the proportions of a standard Egyptian obelisk. 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 ones.
Dedication The monument was finally dedicated on February 21, 1885. It opened to the public more than 3
years later, in October 1888.
Observatory The Washington Monument is located at the National Mall. It is surrounded by flagpoles, with
each flag representing one state. From the observatory, you have a fantastic view over all of Washington.
Admission is free, but you have to reserve a ticket.
1. When did the monument open to the public?
2. What was the name of the architect who designed the monument?
3. What was the purpose of the Washington National Monument
4. What is the tip of the monument made from?
5. Who were the „Know-Nothings?‟
6. Why are there different colored stones in the monument?
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington Mansion and 200 acres of ground immediately surrounding it were designated officially as a
military cemetery June 15, 1864, by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.
More than 300,000 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Veterans from all the nation's wars are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through the
Iraq and Afghanistan. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.
The federal government dedicated a model community for freed slaves, Freedman's Village, near the current
Memorial Amphitheater, Dec. 4, 1863. More than 1,100 freed slaves were given land by the government,
where they farmed and lived during and after the Civil War. They were turned out in 1890 when the estate
was repurchased by the government and dedicated as a military installation.
In Section 27, are buried more than 3,800 former slaves, called "Contrabands" during the Civil War. Their
headstones are designated with the word "Civilian" or "Citizen."
Arlington House (Custis-Lee Mansion) and the grounds in its immediate vicinity are administered by the
National Park Service.
The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a
half hour after the last funeral each day. Funerals are normally conducted five days a week, excluding
Funerals, including interments and inurnments, average 28 a day.
With more than 300,000 people buried, Arlington National Cemetery has the second-largest number of
people buried of any national cemetery in the United States. Arlington National Cemetery conducts
approximately 6,400 burials each year. The largest of the 130 national cemeteries is the Calverton National
Cemetery, on Long Island, near Riverhead, N.Y. That cemetery conducts more than 7,000 burials each
The Tomb of the Unknowns is one of the more-visited sites at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb is
made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 tons. The
Tomb was completed and opened to the public April 9, 1932, at a cost of $48,000.
Three unknown servicemen are buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns:
Unknown Soldier of World War I, interred Nov. 11, 1921. President Harding presided. Unknown Soldier of
World War II, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided. Unknown Soldier of the Korean
Conflict, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided; Vice President Nixon acted as next of kin.
An Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Conflict, interred May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided. The
remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force
1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family has reinterred him near their home in St. Louis, Mo. It has been
determined that the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown
will remain empty. The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded by the U.S. Army 24 hours a day, 365 days a
year. The 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) began guarding the Tomb April 6, 1948.
In addition to in-ground burial, Arlington National Cemetery also has one of the larger columbariums for
cremated remains in the country. Seven courts are currently in use, with over 38,500 niches.
When construction is complete, there will be nine courts with a total of over 60,000 niches; capacity for more
than 100,000 remains. Any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for inurnment in the columbarium
1. How many people are buried in Arlington National Cemetery?
2. What are the former slaves in section 27 called?
3. How many soldiers are buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?
4. What happened to the other soldier buried in the tomb?
5. How many burials per week does Arlington carry out?
The Union Station is the main Railway Station in Washington. It was constructed between
1907 and 1908 as the new terminal for the Baltimore & Ohio and the Pennsylvania Railroads.
The terminal would be the main gateway to the capital of the United States for more than 40 years.
The Chicago architect Daniel Burnham designed a beautiful grand building in the Beaux-Arts style,
a neoclassicist style popular since the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. An
impressive 182m long, the building was the largest train station in the world. The central archway,
based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome leads to the main hall with a 29m/96ft high barrel-
vaulted ceiling. The coffered ceiling was decorated with gold leaf. Other expensive materials were
used such as marble and granite, resulting in a then enormous cost of $125 million.
The station's heyday
In its heyday the Union Station was the main transportation hub of Washington, servicing more
than 100,000 passengers on a single day. The station even had a Presidential suite, first used by
President Taft in 1909. The last of the 17 presidents using the suite was President Eisenhower.
In the 1950s, when air travel became more and more popular, the number of passengers started to
decline and the railway station had become too large. An attempt in the 1970s to turn it into a
visitor‟s center failed. By that time, the state of the building had deteriorated to such an extent that
parts of the roof started to cave in. Congress and the Railroad authorities debated whether the
Union Station would be demolished or renovated. Fortunately, in 1981 a joint public and private
venture was set up to restore the building.
The Union Station finally reopened in 1988. Besides serving as a train station it has become a
popular place for shopping and eating with a large food court and more than 100 shops.
The Washington Union Station is located on Capitol Hill, not far from the US Capitol and US
1. When was Union Station built?
2. How many passengers would travel through the station in its
3. When did the station reopen?
4. Why did the station decline?
The White House
The White House has been the official residence of every President of the United States with the exception of
The White House is located on a site near the Mall chosen in 1790 by President George Washington and
Pierre l'Enfant, the architect who created the master plan for the new capital. Meanwhile the president
resided in the President's House at the temporary capital Philadelphia.
A competition held for the design of the new President's House received nine entries. The winner was
James Hoban, an architect of Irish descent. His neo-classical design is presumably based on the Leinster
House in Dublin.
Construction started in 1792 and in 1800, when the building was almost completed, President John Adams
moved in. Ever since, each President of the United States has lived in the White House. In 1814, British
troops invaded the defenseless city and torched several buildings, including the Capitol, the Treasury, the
War Department and the White House. President Madison decided to rebuild the public buildings. James
Hoban rebuilt the White House, of which only the outer walls were still standing, according to the original
Most people seem to think the building was first painted white after it was rebuilt in 1817, but already in
1798 it was made white by a protective lime-based whitewash. It wasn't named White House from the
beginning though: it was originally named the 'President's Palace', 'President's House' or 'Executive
Mansion'. It was soon nicknamed 'White House' and in 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt made it the
The White House has been extended and modified many times. The most important extensions were the
addition of the East Wing and the West Wing. The latter contains the famous 'Oval Office', the president's
main office. The room was modeled on the 'Blue Room', an oval room at the center of the White House. The
building contains a total of 132 rooms; some of them can be visited on a tour, including the Green Room,
Blue Room, Red Room and State Dining Room.
The garden around the White House was first planted by John Adams. It was later redesigned by many
presidents and first ladies. The most famous part of the garden was added in 1913 by Ellen Wilson, wife of
President Woodrow Wilson. She created a Rose Garden, which would later be redesigned and used as a
venue for official ceremonies by President Kennedy. It is located just outside the Oval Office.
Thomas Jefferson was the first president to allow public tours of the White House in 1805. Since September
11, 2001 they have been suspended but US residents can arrange group tours of 10 or more people
through their member of Congress.
1. Who originally designed the White House?
2. Before it was officially called the White House, what was the name
of the building?
3. Where is the Oval Office?
4. Who rebuilt the White House after the British burned it?
5. Why did George Washington not live in the White House?
The Jefferson Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial pays tribute to Thomas Jefferson, the third President
of the United States.
Thomas Jefferson is one of the greatest figures in the history of the nation. The
author of the Declaration of Independence was one of the founding fathers of the
United States. A firm believer in equal rights, democracy, education available to all,
freedom of religion and separation between church and state, he gave form to the
nascent nation still searching for its identity. Besides being a politician, Jefferson was
also an architect, a writer, musician, scientist and inventor.
A new Memorial
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt felt that a person of such magnitude deserved
a memorial, similar to the Lincoln memorial and the Washington monument. A
commission was installed in 1934 to choose a design and location for the memorial.
It took until 1936 before a design by John Russel Pope was chosen. He had opted
for a neo-classical dome with a portico based on the Pantheon in Rome. Since
Jefferson was a supporter of classical architecture this seemed to be a fitting tribute.
Construction started in 1939 and it was dedicated four years later, in 1943. Since
metal was being rationed during the Second World War, a plaster statue of Jefferson
was created instead. After the war, the plaster statue was replaced by a 19ft / 6m tall
statue in bronze, sculpted by Rudulph Evans. The interior walls are engraved with
inscriptions taken from the Declaration of Independence and from other writings.
The Jefferson Memorial is located at the south side of the Tidal Basin. The
manmade lake is surrounded by cherry trees. The trees were a gift from the city of
Tokyo to the city of Washington in 1912. It is one of the most photographed sights in
Washington, especially during the two weeks when the trees bloom.
1. Who was Thomas Jefferson?
2. Who designed the memorial?
3. What was the original Jefferson statue made from? Why?
4. Why are there cherry trees surrounding the manmade lake next to
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln memorial is a monument honoring the 16th President of the United States,
Soon after Lincoln became president, seven southern states seceded in response to the
president's condemnation of slavery.
One year later, four more states seceded and in April 1861 the Civil War started. During the war,
Congress approved the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States. The Civil War
ended in April 1865 with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee. Six days later, Abraham Lincoln
was shot by an assassin.
Lincoln Memorial Monument Association
Two years after his assassination, Congress formed the Lincoln Monument Association. Its task
was to build a memorial dedicated to Abraham Lincoln. It would take until 1901 before a site for the
memorial was chosen. In 1911 the Lincoln Memorial Bill was signed by President Taft, providing $2
million funds for the memorial.
Construction started in 1914. The design by the New York architect Henry Bacon was based on a
Greek temple with 36 Doric columns. Each column represents one state of the Union at the time of
Lincoln's death. When the memorial was completed in May 1922, the Union had expanded with 12
more states, so the names of the 48 states were carved on the outside of the memorial's walls.
After the admission of Alaska and Hawaii, a plaque was added with the names of the new states.
Inside the 99ft tall marble temple is a large sculpture of Abraham Lincoln seated in a chair. The
sculpture, designed by Daniel Chester French, was originally intended to be 10ft/3m tall. Henry
Bacon realized the statue would be dwarfed inside the large temple so the size was almost
doubled to 19ft/5.8m.
The northern wall contains an inscription of Lincoln's second inaugural speech; the southern wall
has the Gettysburg address inscribed. Above the inscription is a mural depicting the angel of truth
freeing a slave.
The memorial is often used as a gathering place for protests and political rallies. The most famous
was the March of Washington in 1963, when Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech 'I
have a dream' from the Lincoln Memorial.
The Lincoln Memorial is located at the west end of the National Mall. From the top of the stairs in
front of the temple, you have a great view of the Washington Monument and the US Capitol.
1. How long did it take to build the memorial?
2. Why are there 36 columns in the memorial?
3. How tall is the statue of Abraham Lincoln?
4. What two speeches are inscribed on the walls of the memorial?
5. Why do you think those two speeches are in the memorial?
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the men and women who served in the
Vietnam War. Its main monument, known as 'The Wall' is the most visited memorial
The V-shaped wall is located in the Constitution Gardens. One end of the wall points to the
Washington Monument while the other points to the nearby Lincoln Memorial.
The construction of a memorial was approved by Congress in 1980 as a result of
campaigns by Vietnam Veterans. The project was financed privately; the necessary funds
were collected by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. They announced a national
competition for the design of the memorial.
One of the 1421 entries in the competition was submitted by Maya Ying Lin, a 20 year old
student at Yale University. Her design was the result of an earlier class assignment. She
only received a B grade on the assignment, but a jury of architects and sculptors
unanimously selected her design.
Lin's design was very simple: two black triangular granite walls are sunk into the ground at
an angle of 125 degrees. Each wall is 250ft or 76m long. Both walls start at a height of 8
inches (20cm) and meet at their highest point where the walls are 10ft (3m) high. Inscribed
in the wall are the names of more than 58,000 men and women who were killed in the
Vietnam War or who are still missing in action. A diamond next to the name indicates the
person was killed, a cross indicates the person is missing. If a body is identified, the cross
The austere design of the memorial, a scar in the earth, was controversial. Some Vietnam
Veterans opposed the design which lacked statues or an American flag. To silence the
critics, a group of statues was erected near the Vietnam memorial in 1984, two years after
the wall was dedicated. Over time, people started to better understand the powerful image
of the wall. The cleavage in the earth symbolizes the country divided over the Vietnam War,
while the seemingly endless list of names visualizes the many sacrifices that were made
better than any traditional monument could have done.
In 1993 another sculpture, depicting three women and a wounded soldier, was added to the
Vietnam Memorial. It honors the women who served in the Vietnam War.
1. What is the lowest height of the wall? What is the highest?
2. Who designed the wall?
3. Who collected the money for the memorial?
4. How long is the memorial?
5. About how many names are on the wall?
6. Why were sculptures added in 1984?
7. Why was another sculpture added in 1993?
Korean War Memorial
Truly one of the most touching sights in Washington D.C., the Korean War Veterans Memorial
serves as a reminder of those brave men and women of the United States military forces who
crossed the vast ocean to defend the people of a country that was unfamiliar to nearly each and
every one of them.
"Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and
a people they never met,” says the inscription on the Pool of Remembrance at this memorial which was a
long-time coming, especially in the opinion of those who served so unselfishly in the Korean War.
Planning and Construction
Authorized in 1986 to “honor members of the United States Armed Forces who served in the Korean War,
particularly those who were killed in action, are still missing inaction, or were held as prisoners of war," the
Korean War Veterans Memorial took about nine years to conceive and build.
An advisory board of 12 veterans assumed responsibility for all aspects of construction and chose a site
across the reflecting pool from the highly-visited Vietnam Veterans Memorial, adjacent to the majestic
A Lifelike Design
Designed by Frank Gaylord of Barre, Vermont, and dedicated on July 27, 1995 by American President Bill
Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young Sam, this awesome memorial depicts 19 American soldiers
making their way through the rough terrain of Korea.
Almost surreal in appearance, especially in the shadows of dusk, the lifelike statues stand about 7 feet tall
and represent various branches of the armed forces including 14 Army personnel, 3 Marines, 1 member of
the Navy, and 1 member of the Air Force. These detailed sculptures also represent an ethnic cross section
of the American melting pot. Visitors will count 14 Caucasians, 3 African-Americas, 2 Hispanics, 1 Oriental,
and 1 Native American soldier.
From certain angles, it‟s nearly impossible to see all 19 statues as 3 of them are in the trees, giving the
appearance of troops emerging from Korea‟s vast wooded areas. Strategically planted juniper bushes
represent the country‟s sometimes unforgiving terrain.
The statues, made of stainless steel, wear authentic Korean War-era gear and the sculptor has given them
motion by designing them to appear as if they‟re walking into the wind. They also seem to be talking with
one another as they march into battle.
The sight is awesome and touching, and most visitors merely browse quietly - including children - choosing
not to speak in deference to those who gave their lives during this conflict or merely because they get a
huge lump in their throat when they view this amazing memorial.
The Mural Wall
Consisting of 41 panels and measuring nearly 164 feet long, the memorial‟s Mural Wall is equally as
amazing as the sculptures. Designed from 15,000 photographs of various aspects of the war, the final
product boasts 2,400 etched images of personnel and equipment from all the armed forces especially
You‟ll find surgeons, nurses, chaplains, and stretcher bearers looking forward into the eyes of the statues.
Visitors will see crews building bridges, airfield construction, supply centers, radio communications officers,
reporters and even canine corps.
The wall is designed in harmony with the statues, with the etchings arranged in a wavy pattern like the
billowing ponchos of the soldiers walking into battle. Evening lights cast an eerie glow on this cleverly
designed mural which, when viewed from afar, creates the appearance of Korea‟s mountain ranges.
Visitors can also head to the Honor Roll, an area which includes a list of all verifiable personnel that were
killed in action, still listed as missing in action, or who were prisoners of war during the Korean conflict.
Near the north entrance, the UN Curb lists the names of the 22 member nations of the United Nations that
responded to the war by sending troops or other support to Korea.
The nearby Pool of Remembrance is situated on a peninsula-like area, indicative of the peninsula of Korea,
and lists the statistics of the war. Lined with black granite and surrounded by beautiful shade trees, a plaque
on the wall reads, “Freedom is not free.”
1. How many statues are in the memorial?
2. How many images are on the wall of the memorial?
3. What is the Honor Roll?
4. What are the statues made from?
5. What does, „Freedom is not Free,‟ mean?
Go online and have a look at the 3 places – What are you going to want to
National Air and Space Museum (This is where you will have lunch.)
Natural History Museum
Mount Vernon – Home of George Washington (Friday, 3:00)
We have 1 ½ hours at Mount Vernon. Work out what you want to see.
Have a look at Mount Vernon as it is today!
Virtual Tour: http://www.mountvernon.org/virtual/index.cfm/ss/29/