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The Washington Monument – A Monumental lesson

Story by Design Dalda

The Washington Monument - Story by Design Dalda
Photo Coyright ©DesignDalda

Built to commemorate George Washington, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and the nation’s first president, stretching 555 feet in the sky, the Washington Monument, an obelisk completed in 1884 is the tallest monument in Washington DC. It was for some time the tallest human-built monument in the world, until the Eiffel Tower took over in just 3 years. Construction began in 1848 entirely from private donations, within six years the budget burned out, and work ground to a halt. At 152-foot tall, the marble stub capped with a wooden roof, became a source of national embarrassment. The project resumed in 1878, this time with Government support, the only problem was that the original marble quarry was no longer in operation. The engineers did their best to find a match, a contract was signed with a nearby quarry. However, by 1900, high levels of interior condensation began penetrating the joints of the outer walls, causing the new marble to discolour. The effect has grown more dramatic over the years, and today the two sections are quite apparent, some see this as a flaw, others view it as an interesting episode in the monument’s history.

But why does the Monument look like an Egyptian Obelisk!? Well, it seems that in the 1800s, America, all brand new and just set up was desperate to look like it had been around forever! So it was trying to adapt old, really old styles and was crazy about ancient Egypt. Called, “Egyptomania,” it had its roots in France’s king, Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign which brought objects and images from the heart of image to the world at large. The United States still carries reminders of its founders’ fascination with ancient Egypt on its currency.

In a technical sense, the Washington Monument is not an obelisk, because unlike a genuine Obelisk one of which stands in Paris, it isn’t made from a single piece of stone. However that doesn’t take away anything from a sense of purity, grace and elegance the form soaring into the sky carries. Additionally, unlike other such monuments the Washington monument did not have a statue of the man, it was added only in 1994 that too inside the ground-floor lobby. It is the 555 feet obelisk not anywhere close to the highest such monuments in the world, with marble of multiple colours that hold the country and visitors enthral.

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