Far view of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.
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Washington Monument

Washington, D.C.

At the western end of the National Mall, the Washington Monument towers over our country’s capital. The 555-foot obelisk—a four-sided stone pillar with a pyramid-shaped top—was built to honor the first U.S. president, George Washington. For most of the last eight years, visitors have only been able to view it from afar. It has been closed to the public. But in September, the monument reopened with an upgraded elevator system. Back in 1886, when the public was first allowed inside, guests had to climb nearly 900 steps to the top. Today, the 500,000 or so yearly visitors can take a 70-second ride to the observation deck.“It’s still a thrill to go up there and see these iconic national memorials in the distance,” says National Parks Service spokesman Mike Litterst. Those who make the trip can spot the White House; the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials; and the U.S. Capitol. “It’s the highest point in the city,” Litterst says. “It gives you an unobstructed view of American history.” —Brian S. McGrath

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