District of Columbia

The District of Columbia was formed in 1790 to become the seat of the United States Government. The following year, the city of Washington, D. C. was named in honor of the nation’s founding father. These 61 square miles are a tourist’s delight. Enjoy visiting museums, historic sites and a plethora of grand, Neoclassical buildings.

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1 Senate Wing of the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The Senate of the United States was established in 1789. Two senators from each state are elected to staggered, six-year terms. The District of Columbia is represented by two shadow senators. The Senate Chambers are located in this North Wing of the U. S. Capitol Building. The Neoclassical design by Thomas U. Walter was completed in 1859. Across Constitution Avenue are three buildings housing the offices of the U. S. Senate. They were named after Senators Richard Russel (severed from 1932 – 1971), Everett Dirksen (House from 1933 – 1949; Senate from 1951 – 1969) and Philip Hart (1959 – 1976).

45 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20515
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2 Evolution of the U. S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

George Washington selected the site for the U.S. Capitol in 1791 and laid its cornerstone in 1793. Its evolution required 170 years. Here are the historical milestones. 1800: Congress moved into the nearly finished North Wing. 1811: South Wing completed. 1814: British troops set the Capitol ablaze. 1819: Restoration completed. 1826-1856: Life of the first dome. 1857: House of Representatives finished. 1859: Senate building done. 1863: Statue of Freedom placed on top of the new dome. 1868: Capitol extended. 1891: Marble terraces added. 1898: A gas explosion. 1962: The East front was expanded resulting in this view today. 2008: The 580,000 square foot Visitor Center opened underground.

45 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20515
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3 U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C.

The earliest architectural dome was made with mammoth tusks in 19000 BC. Since then, many cultures have created religious and government domes. Famous ones include the Panthéon in Paris, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Michelangelo designed the world’s tallest dome of 448 feet at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. In comparison, the U. S. Capitol’s Corinthian dome stands 288 feet. On top is a 19 foot Statue of Freedom. The Neoclassical appearance of the Nation’s Capitol is replicated in the design of many government buildings around Washington, D. C.

45 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20515
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4 House of Representatives Wing of the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

On the south side of the U. S. Capitol is the House of Representatives Wing. It was finished in 1857, two years before the almost identical looking North Wing. Both extensions were created by architect Thomas U. Walter. Unlike the two senators per state, the House has 435 members. They are allocated by a state’s districts and population. Therefore, California has 53 representatives while seven states only have one each.

45 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20515
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5 U.S. Capitol Building and Flowers in Washington, D.C.

Behind these purple tulips and pansies at the House Triangle is the majestic profile of the U.S. Capitol. Among the neighboring landmarks in the Capital Hill Historic District are the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress plus the Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn Buildings. This view down South Capitol Street is between the latter two House Office Buildings.

House Triangle, Washington, DC 20016
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6 U.S. Supreme Court East Façade in Washington, D.C.

According to the Constitution, “The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court.” When organized in 1790, it resided in New York City and then Philadelphia before moving to Washington, D.C. The current building is covered primarily in marble. On this east façade is the motto, “Justice the Guardian of Liberty.” The Supreme Court was the last project for the distinguished and famous architect, Cass Gilbert. He died before it was completed in 1935.

1 First St NE, Washington, DC 20543
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7 Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C.

The Library of Congress originated in 1800. The “Nation’s Library” did not have their first, dedicated headquarters until this one opened in 1897. The Beaux-Arts design crowned with a 23-carat gold dome is impressive. Inside is a lavish décor decorated with paintings and sculptures by over 40 artists. The grander has been compared to the Palais Garnier in Paris. In 1980, the structure was renamed the Thomas Jefferson Building in honor of the Third U. S. President. His extensive collection of books became an important foundation for the Library of Congress in 1815.

100 First St SE, Washington, DC 20543
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8 Longworth Building in Washington, D.C.

This marble façade, Neoclassical structure designed by Frank Upman has been one of the office complexes for the U. S. House of Representatives since it opened in 1933. The Longworth Building is located across Independence Avenue from the House Chambers. Its namesake is Nicholas Longworth. He was member of the Ohio House of Representatives beginning in 1899, rose to the same role in Washington, D. C. in 1903 and then was Speaker of the House until he died in 1931. He also married Alice Roosevelt in 1906 while her father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the 26th President of the United States.

1 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
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9 Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Artillery Sculpture in Washington, D.C.

At the base of U.S. Capitol and at the west end of The National Mall is a tribute to Ulysses S. Grant. The bronze, equestrian statute in Union Square portrays Grant as the Army’s Commanding General during the American Civil War. Adjacent is this ensemble named, “The Artillery Group.” Another sculpture part of this Civil War Memorial Monument is called, “The Cavalry Charge.”

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, Washington, DC 20016
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10 National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Mellon, a wealthy businessman and former Treasury Secretary and U. S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, established a trust in 1930. His generosity became the foundation for The Nationally Gallery of Art. The museum anchors a substantial portion of The National Mall in Washington, D. C. This West Building, designed by John Russel Pope, opened in 1941. Mellon’s children maintained the tradition by funding the East Building’s construction in 1978. In 1999, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden was added. The art museum is visited by over four million people a year. Admission is free.

6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565
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11 National Achieves Building Rotunda Entrance in Washington, D.C.

Any building housing originals of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be listed by the U. S. National Register of Historic Places. You can see these foundation documents of the United States on display at the National Achieves Building. This Classical Revival design – finished in 1935 – is another impressive contribution to The National Mall by architect John Russel Pope. The fountain in the foreground is part of the 6.1 acre Museum of Art Sculpture Gallery.

700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408
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12 Typewriter Eraser at National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

On the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is the Sculpture Garden sponsored by the National Gallery of Art. Exemplary of the collection’s 17, large outdoor works is the “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X.” This rather odd artwork has been in the six-acre park since 1999. The New York artist, Claes Oldenburg, is famous for creating huge sculptures of everyday objects. Examples of his famous pieces include a tube of lipstick, a rubber stamp, a garden tool, a dropped ice cream cone, pool balls and a giant spoon with a cherry in it.

Constitution Ave NW & 7th Street, Washington, DC 20408
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13 National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of Natural History explains the story of the universe starting 13.8 billion years ago and earth’s creation 4.5 billion years ago. The museum’s over 124 million specimens trace human, animal and plant evolution from a single cell. The Smithsonian’s most popular museum welcomes over eight million visitors annually for free. This fascinating collection is displayed in the equivalent of eight football fields. The National Museum of Natural History opened in 1911 and is located on The National Mall.

10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560
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14 Smithsonian Institution Building The Castle in Washington, D.C.

“The Castle” opened in Washington, D. C. nine years after the United States National Museum was founded in 1846. This red sandstone building designed by James Renwick Jr. still serves as the headquarters for the Smithsonian Institution. Eleven of the Smithsonian’s nineteen museums are located on The National Mall. The collection totals over 150 million items. It is impossible to see even a fraction of the treasures on display. Yet admission is free. Return as often as you wish.

1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560
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15 The White House in Washington, D.C.

The world’s most famous address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Construction of the White House started in 1792. In November of 1800, John Adams, the 2nd US President, became the first resident. When Thomas Jefferson moved in the following year, he described it as “Big enough for two emperors, one pope and the grand lama in the bargain.” It was burnt down by the British in 1814. Sections of the historical structure have been expanded, renovated or refurbished during almost every administration. The West Wing contains the Oval Office plus the Cabinet, Situation, Press Briefing and Roosevelt rooms.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500
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16 Second Division WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This flaming golden sword is part of the Second Division Memorial honoring infantry who died while defending Paris from the Germans during World War I. The monument was created by artist James Earle Fraser and erected in President’s Park near the White House in 1936.

17th Street NW, and Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC. 20006
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17 Pan American Union Building in Washington, D.C.

The First International Conference of American States met in 1889-1890 with the goal of facilitating solidarity among independent American countries. This mission was named the Pan American Union in 1910, the same year their headquarters opened on Constitution Avenue. This group of 35 member countries became the Organization of American States in 1948. In front of the OAS building are two marble sculptures created in 1910. On the left is “South America” by Isidore Konti. On the right is “North America” by Gutzon Borglum.

200 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
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18 American Red Cross Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

During the American Civil War, a registered nurse named Clara Barton actively treated wounded soldiers. When the battles ended in 1865, she campaigned to find over 22,000 men missing in action. This is when she became familiar with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. Greatly inspired, she initiated the American Red Cross in 1881. As much as you probably appreciate the selfless mission of the Red Cross, you might be inclined to walk by their headquarters on 17th Street. However, the ARC building is worth a quick visit to admire the stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. They date back to 1917 when this U. S. National Historic Landmark opened.

430 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
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19 World War II Memorial on National Mall in Washington, D.C.

These are a few of the 56 granite pillars comprising the National World War II Memorial. This beautiful tribute to fallen soldiers is located between the Lincoln Memorial (seen in the background) and the Washington Monument on The National Mall. Each 17 foot pillar is dedicated to soldiers from one of 48 states. The rest are inscribed with D.C., the territories of Hawaii and Alaska, plus other U.S. territories as shown in the photo. Around the semicircle are bas-reliefs illustrating various soldier scenes from recruitment, to battles and coming home. On the right is the northern triumphal arch with the inscription “Atlantic.”

1750 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
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20 Three Soldiers Sculptures by Frederick Hart in Washington, D.C.

“The Three Soldiers” is a powerful bronze statue in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The ensemble was dedicated by President Regan in 1984. The American soldiers are in combat gear and appear to be walking on patrol. However, they are not wearing uniforms, perhaps to represent all of the servicemen killed (58,000) or wounded (153,000) during the war. The artist was Fredrick Hart. He died in 1999 at the early age of 56.

297 Henry Bacon Dr NW, Washington, DC 20245
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21 Horrified Korean War Soldier Statue in Washington, D.C.

This horrified soldier is one of 19 stainless steel sculptures portraying a platoon on patrol. The seven-foot statues were created by Frank Gaylord as part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in West Potomac Park. Behind the soldier is The Mural Wall. This huge slab of granite – it measures 164 feet long – has sandblasted images of the Korean Peninsula battle that lasted from 1950 until 1953. Over 33,500 U. S. troops were killed during the engagement.

665 Daniel French Dr SW, Washington, DC 20245
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22 Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The first building on The National Mall in Washington, D.C. appears to be a Greek Doric temple. 36 fluted columns standing 44 feet tall grace the exterior as do the names of the 36 states in the Union when Lincoln was assassinated. This tribute to the 16th U. S. President was designed by Henry Bacon. Almost since its completion in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial has been a favorite among tourists – six million a year visit – and demonstrators. Perhaps the most famous event was Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in 1963.

2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037
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23 Abraham Lincoln Statue at Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The most iconic statue of the 16th U. S. President was sculpted from 1916 to 1920 by Daniel French and sits in the Lincoln Memorial. The white marble sculpture is 19 by 19 feet. Surrounding this imposing figure are inscriptions from the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s second inaugural speech. An interesting debate is whether his hands form the initials “A” and “L” in sign language. Lincoln has a wonderful view of the Washington Memorial and the U.S. Capitol from across the Reflecting Pool.

2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037
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24 Sacrifice Sculpture at Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.

The Arlington Memorial Bridge was built over the Potomac River in 1932 to connect the Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. This statuary adorns the eastern terminus of the stone arch bridge. Sculptor Leo Friedlander named it, “The Arts of War: Sacrifice” when it was erected in 1950. Flanking the other side is another of his grand sculptures called “The Arts of War: Valor.”

620 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20037
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25 Arts of Peace Statues in Washington, D.C.

Artist James Earie Fraser was commissioned to create two granite sculptures in 1930. When the Neoclassical statues were erected twenty years later, they were constructed with gilded bronze. Together they are called “The Arts of Peace.” On the left is “Music and Harvest.” On the right is “Aspiration and Literature.” Both portray images of Pegasus, the winged stallion from Greek mythology. The sculptures are located on Rock Creek Parkway near the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

Rock Creek Pkwy NW and Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20037
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26 American Institute of Pharmacy Building in Washington, D.C.

In 1869, a pharmacist named John Lawrence Kidwell purchased a swamp in Washington, D. C. One year after he died in 1885, Kidwell’s fortuitist investment became Potomac Park. Early in the 20th Century, the Lincoln Memorial was constructed on the former Kidwell’s Meadows. The American Institute of Pharmacy Building was also built on Kidwell’s land in 1934. The Classical Revival design by prolific D. C. architect John Russel Pope is faced with Vermont marble. This is the only private structure on The National Mall. The APhA headquarters was listed by the U. S. Register of Historic Places in 1977.

2215 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037
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27 Albert Einstein Memorial in Washington, D.C.

If you need a moment to rest while touring Washington, D. C, then have a seat in the shade on this white granite bench next to Albert Einstein. This bronze memorial of the famous genius physicist was created by Robert Berks in 1979. It was then erected on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences along Constitution Avenue. The dedication event helped celebrate the centennial of Einstein’s birth in Ulm, Germany. In his hands are three equations of his most celebrated theories.

2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20418
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28 National Academy of Sciences Dome in Washington, D.C.

The National Academy of Sciences Building on Constitution Avenue also houses the National Academies of Medicine and Engineering. Given the NAS Building’s name, it seems an unlikely draw for tourists in a city filled with places to see. But step inside and you will first be impressed by the Entry Foyer’s mahogany ceiling accented with winged figures and limestone walls. More impressive is this 56 foot dome of The Great Hall. These Art Deco paintings by Hildreth Meière represent the sun, the orbiting planets and different scientific disciplines. Within the pediments are allegories for earth, water, fire and air.

2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20418
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29 Eccles Building Federal Reserve Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Originally called the Federal Reserve Building, the Eccles Building was constructed on Constitution Avenue in 1937 based on a design by architect Paul Philippe Cret. This is the headquarters for the Federal Reserve and where the Board of Governors meets. The structure’s namesake is Marriner S. Eccles. He became the Federal Reserve Chairman in 1934 during the height of the Great Depression. Many of his innovative monetary policies are credited with ending the worst economic times in U. S. history.

2051 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20418
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30 Department of the Interior South Building in Washington, D.C.

The Interior Department’s headquarters have been at this South Building since it was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. The namesake for this structure designed by Waddy Butler Wood is Stewart Lee Udall. While he was the Secretary of the Interior for most of the 1960s, Udall is credited with a major expansion of the federal and national parks and monuments. These actions exemplified the department’s mission to manage and conserve the country’s natural resources and federal land.

1925 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
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31 Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C

This edifice was the State, War and Navy Building when it opened along Pennsylvania Avenue in 1888. Once called America’s ugliest building by Mark Twain, the former Executive Office Building is now considered a U. S. National Historic Landmark. In 1999, it was renamed the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The EEOB houses the Executive Office of the President, the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council.

1650 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20502
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32 Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.

It required 14 years to build Washington, D. C.’s first art museum. After opening in 1873, it served the Corcoran Gallery of Art plus the Corcoran College of Art and Design. In 1965, those institutions and their collections were acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Renwick Gallery now exhibits decorative arts and crafts. The museum’s namesake is the architect, James Renwick Jr. His Second Empire design was inspired by the Louvre in Paris.

1661 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
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33 The Blair House in Washington, D.C.

Joseph Lovell commissioned a brick residence along Pennsylvania Avenue in 1824 while he was the Surgeon General of the United States Army. When the home was purchased by Francis Preston Blair in 1836, it was renamed after the newspaper publisher. In 1939, it became the country’s first National Historic Landmark. Three years later, the U. S. Government bought the property to accommodate dignitaries. Since 1989, after three adjacent properties were combined with the Blair House, it has been officially called the President’s Guest House.

1651 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20503
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34 Marquis de Lafayette Sculpture in Washington, D.C.

This marble and bronze tribute to Major General Marquis de Lafayette is appropriately located in Lafayette Square. The statue was created by Jean Alexandre Joseph Falguière in 1890. Marquis de Lafayette was a Frenchman who helped Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson fight during the American Revolution. This sculpture is one of fourteen in Washington, D. C. managed by National Park Service. They are collectively called the American Revolution Statuary.

720 Madison Pl NW, Washington, DC 20005
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35 National Savings and Trust Company Building in Washington, D.C.

This was the headquarters of the National Savings and Trust Company when it opened along New York Avenue in 1888. Architect James Hamilton Windrim is responsible for this Queen Anne design faced with red brick and terracotta. At the top of the cooper, tripartite bay windows are a fancy clock with Roman numerals and a gilded cupola. Since Washington, D. C.’s second oldest bank was acquired in 1985, this historic building has served as SunTrust’s main office in D.C.

1445 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005
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36 Treasury Department Building in Washington, D.C.

After the Treasury Department moved from Philadelphia to Washington D. C. in 1800, its headquarters were destroyed by arsonists in 1801, 1814 and 1833. Robert Mills was commissioned to build a fireproof structure. The East and Center Wings were completed in 1842. The South wing was added in 1860 followed by the North Wing in 1869. Those imposing granite, Ionic columns stand 36 feet tall. Free guided tours are available to view this oldest government department building in Washington, D. C.

1500 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20220
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37 Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Willoughby Edbrooke drew the Romanesque Revival design of the Old Post Office Building. The structure boosted of several innovative features when it opened in 1899, including a ten-story atrium, elevators and electric wiring. This Main Post Office from 1899 until 1914 was threatened with demolition in the early 1900s, in the 1920s and in 1971. The last time it was saved by Nancy Hanks while she headed the National Endowment for the Arts. Thereafter, it was called the Nancy Hanks Center. In 2016, the Old Post Office Pavilion reopened as the Trump International Hotel Washington, D. C.

1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
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38 Old Post Office Clock Tower in Washington, D.C.

The clock tower of the Old Post Office Building has been Washington, D. C.’s tallest structure at 315 feet since it opened along Pennsylvania Avenue in 1899. Inside the belfry are the 10 Congress Bells. These replicas of the bells at Westminster Abbey in London ring whenever a session of Congress opens or closes.

1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
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39 Washington Memorial from Old Post Office Observatory in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Monument is a 555 foot, marble obelisk. The world’s tallest stone structure was built in 1888 to honor the country’s first president and his contribution to winning the American Revolutionary War. This iconic centerpiece of The National Mall is shown through the window of the public observatory atop the Old Post Office Building. In the foreground is the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA offices are part of the Federal Triangle.

1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
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