It is the tallest monumental column in the world if all are measured above their pedestrian entrances. Although the stone structure was completed in 1884, internal ironwork, the knoll, a difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet or 27% up, shows where construction was halted and later resumed with marble from a different source. The original design was by Robert Mills, but he did not include his proposed colonnade due to a lack of funds, despite many proposals to embellish the obelisk, only its original flat top was altered to a pointed marble pyramidion, in 1884. Upon completion, it became the worlds tallest structure, a previously held by the Cologne Cathedral. The monument held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, the monument was damaged during the 2011 Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene in the same year and remained closed to the public while the structure was assessed and repaired. After 32 months of repairs, the National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall reopened the Washington Monument to visitors on May 12,2014, as of September 2016, the monument has been closed indefinitely due to reliability issues with the current elevator system. On December 2,2016, the National Park Service announced that the monument would be closed until 2019 in order to modernize the elevator. The $2 to 3 million project will correct the elevators ongoing mechanical, electrical and computer issues, the National Park Service has also requested funding in its FY2017 Presidents Budget Request to construct a permanent screening facility for the Washington Monument. The Washington Monument is expected to re-open to visitors in 2019, even his erstwhile enemy King George III called him the greatest character of the age. At his death in 1799 he left a legacy, he exemplified the core ideals of the American Revolution. Washington was the unchallenged public icon of American military and civic patriotism, starting with victory in the Revolution, there were many proposals to build a monument to Washington. After his death, Congress authorized a memorial in the national capital. The Republicans were dismayed that Washington had become the symbol of the Federalist Party and they also blocked his image on coins or the celebration of his birthday. Further political squabbling, along with the North-South division on the Civil War, by that time, Washington had the image of a national hero who could be celebrated by both North and South, and memorials to him were no longer controversial. As early as 1783, the Continental Congress had resolved That an equestrian statue of George Washington be erected at the place where the residence of Congress shall be established, currently, there are two equestrian statues of President Washington in Washington, D. C. Ten days after Washingtons death, a Congressional committee recommended a different type of monument, John Marshall, a Representative from Virginia proposed that a tomb be erected within the Capitol. Progress toward a memorial began in 1832. That year, which marked the 100th anniversary of Washingtons birth, in 1836, after they had raised $28,000 in donations, they announced a competition for the design of the memorial
The Washington Monument in October 2016.
Sketch of the proposed Washington Monument by architect Robert Mills (circa 1836)
West side of Jefferson Pier with Washington Monument in background
The partially completed monument, photographed by Mathew Brady; circa 1860