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Biography of the Washington Monument

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                                   The Wonderful                  Washington                       Monument

By:Alec Levi

One Of The Most Iconic Monuments In The World

            The Wonderful       Washington   Monument 

                  By: Alec Levi

This book is dedicated to my amazing english teacher  Mrs.Jones for being the best teacher ever.

When I think of the Washington Monument, I think of Washington D.C, George Washington, and National Parks. However, when I studied this fascinating monument and the building process, I learned about the gifts it gave us and the amazing building and restoration that took place.  

     The history of the Washington Monument is really the most amazing part. Do you know who designed the Washington Monument?  Did you know that he died during the building process? Do you know the date that the monument opened to visitors? I assume that you do not know the answers to these questions. Well, I will inform you about these answers and many more answers.

     Enjoy yourself when you read about the Washington Monument, and when you learn about the key people involved in its history.  I promise it’s you'll know much more about the Washington Monument than you did before you read this.

Alec Levi: Student At AMS

Washington Monument Video



      George Washington was a leader and a very iconic man. From being the Commander of the Continental Army, to being America’s first president, everyone admired him. He played an important role in establishing the United States of America as a Country.  He was a leader from 1775 to 1798.  

     Washington was well known for his superb leadership and he deserved to be honored in many great ways. One great way was through the Washington Monument.  As early as 1783, suggestions were made to honor Mr. Washington with some type of statue.  After Washington’s death, Congress approved a memorial to be built in our nation’s capitol to honor him.   

   An example of one person who looked up to Mr.Washington was Pierre Charles L'Enfant. L'Enfant, who knew Mr. Washington from the early army, wanted to design an iconic structure for such a respected man.





Pierre Charles L’Enfant served as a military worker in the early American army and became an architect who designed much of Washington, D.C.  He wanted to honor George Washington with a structure near the White House and the Capitol Building.  

       Since both of those are iconic monuments, any monument made for Washington would have to be too.  Pierre suggested to John Marshall, the Fourth Justice to the Supreme Court, that the Washington Monument be constructed.

     After Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s death, John Marshall agreed to oversee a contest to elect the architect for the monument.  The project was underway despite L’Enfant’s death, and it was going to be great.      




John Marshall organized that contest to find the best architect for the Washington Monument. To do this, in 1833 John Marshall and James Madison created the Washington National Monument Society (WNMS). The WNMS was created to honor George Washington’s 100th birthday.

      Once the WNMS found the best architect, that architect would design the Washington Monument. In 1836, after a lot of hard work studying many designs, they concluded that Robert Mills was the best architect for the job.

    Mr. Mills later became to be known as “the first trained architect”.  He was prepared to design the 555 foot Washington Monument which became one of the most iconic monuments ever, and Mills knew exactly how to start.



  Robert Mills' original drawing of the Washington Monument 





   Robert Mills allowed construction to begin in 1848. Mills’ original design was a 600 foot Egyptian style monument ringed by thirty 100 foot columns. His design was very expensive, causing a lot of difficulty and confusion for the workers.

  Mr.Mills’ design was different than other builders’ designs . Robert Mills’ idea was more ambitious and risky because it could cause confusion and people could misinterpret his plans  and could do the wrong thing. His design required more workers and more materials.  

The monument was built in two periods, the first between 1848 and 1854. The second period was between 1876 and 1884.  There was a period in between the building because of the Civil War. The first period of building was private, and the second one was public.




  Since the Civil War caused a pause between the two periods of building, everyone forgot that the monument was being built.  Although the first stage was slow, after the Civil War everything seemed to improve and the workers started to understand what to do and the builders built faster.

     The building was looking nicer and nicer everyday. Robert Mills once said Knowledge stands on one leg, and requires balance and attention.Truth stands on its own two strong legs, and requires no proof.” This shows that Mills told the truth and never gave up after the war.

     Unfortunately Robert Mills died during the building process. By 1854, the monument reached 156 feet above ground, but construction stopped without more funding.  No one knew what to do to finish the monument and it looked silly uncompleted. Luckily, Thomas Casey stepped in and filled in for Robert Mills. Thomas Casey made some extraordinary changes to Mills’ original design and construction continued.



  Thomas Casey began as the director of the workers under Robert Mills. Mills told him what to do and Casey told the workers what Robert Mills told him.  After Mills died, Casey led with the help of the Army Corps Of Engineers. Casey was the Chief of the Army Corps Of Engineering.

     Casey made some major changes on Mills’ original design. He added weight and height to the design and switched the structure to better kinds of marble, granite, and sandstone. The Army Corps Of Engineering also included 193 memorial steps and knocked down the rings that were supposed to surround the Washington Monument.

     Thomas Casey worked on the Washington Monument for a long time.  On, February 21, 1885, the Washington Monument was completed and was dedicated to George Washington. On that day special day, it opened to all viewers and tourists who wanted to visit it.  It stood as the tallest building in the world at the time.  Thanks to Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s vision, it was in the perfect area, next to the White House and next to the Capitol building.



    James Polk was the President of the United States of America when the Washington Monument was being built. He also was one of the first 20,000 people to visit the monument on the day that it opened. In his journal, he wrote  “This being the day appointed for laying the cornerStone of the Washington monument in Washington, and having been invited by the committee of arrangements to attend the ceremonies of the occasion.”

     President Polk visited with Mrs. James Madison, Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, and future presidents Buchanan and Lincoln.  He also said“Many of the U.S. Army, we were conducted in carriages to the City Hall where the procession was formed and moved to the site of the Washington monument on the Banks of the Potomac and South of the President’s mansion.”

    Polk had many amazing things to say about the Washington Monument, just like every other visitor. But about 110 years after the historic opening, a tragic event occurred. On August 23, 2011, an earthquake hit Washington D.C. and severely damaged the Washington Monument.  

    Michael Graves was the architect hired to fix the Washington Monument after the earthquake hit the Washington D.C area in August, 2011. He once said, “It’s important for all Americans to understand the life cycle of buildings.”

     Mr. Graves was in charge of designing the last restoration project of the Washington Monument in 1998, and was ready for another challenge.  Mr.Graves wanted to exaggerate the scale of the Washington Monument’s stone pattern. Many stones had already chipped and 132 were even cracked and joints were out of place too.  He understood that people admired the Washington Monument’s structure and beauty so he wanted to restore it.

   Graves believed,“Inspirations come from the challenge…look at the site, make drawings, see the way it works,”. Graves was a very important man in the recent restoration process of the Washington Monument.


Timelapse on restoration process

     David Rubenstein is a wealthy, financial businessman who is often involved in philanthropy.  In fact, Rubenstein hopes to give away almost all of his $3.1 billion before he dies. He donated 7.5 million dollars to the restoration of the monument after the earthquake in 2011. Seven and a half million dollars was only half of what the Washington Monument restoration project needed. After all, the iconic monument had just suffered from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

    Rubenstein knew how much the monument meant to people. During the restoration process, 488 lamps were used to show the tower’s glow each night.  Rubenstein took part in the first lighting of the lamps.  As the builders worked, Rubinstein was pleased that the job was done on time and on budget and he also was excited for the monument to open again.

   Once the Washington Monument reopened in the spring of 2014, Rubenstein was one of the first people to visit it. Rubenstein said, "This Washington Monument is probably one of the most recognizable buildings in the United States next to the Capitol and the Empire State Building," he said. "It could use a little repair work, and I wanted people to get to see it as soon as possible,”  The Washington Monument is now in better condition than ever before and will remain great and iconic.


Mr.Rubenstein is working on the Washington Monument with other workers. 

Some people might be surprised that the Washington Monument is more than 200 feet taller than the Statue Of Liberty but it's less than 100 feet smaller than the Gateway Arch


Isn't it fascinating how big the Washington Monument is compared to a human??


Here is a map of Washington D.C and all of its famous landmarks

I am Alec Levi, a 6th grader at Ardsley Middle School in Ardsley NY. I enjoy playing soccer, baseball, and basketball. I have a twin sister, a brother, and a dog named Boozer. I also have a mom, and a dad. I also enjoy hanging out with my friends. My favorite foods are pasta, sushi, and ice cream. I also love the Washington Monument and I hope you will enjoy reading about it too!

About The Author 

The Washington Monument is a famous building and an iconic structure.  This piece will provide a history of the Monument from the 1790s to 2014.  Get ready to learn a lot about the Washington Monument.

By: Alec Levi