The monument elevator shaft was part of the original design. But over the years, different types of elevators have been installed to use it.
At the monument’s completion in 1884, its elevator was steam-powered. Only men were allowed to use it for safety reasons. (Women and children took the safe way to the top – the 898 stairs.) The ride to the top took 10 to 12 minutes.
An electric elevator replaced the original during a renovation in 1901. Travel time to the top – five minutes.
The current elevator was installed during another renovation in 2001. Travel time is now approximately 70 seconds.
Given by U.S. President Chester A. Arthur
Before the dawn of the century whose eventful years will soon have faded into the past – when death had but lately robbed this republic of its most beloved and illustrious citizen – the Congress of the United States pledged the faith of the nation that in this city, bearing his honored name and then as now the seat of the general government, a monument should be erected to commemorate the great events of his military and political life. The stately column that stretches heavenward from the plain whereon we stand bears witness to all who behold it that the covenant which our fathers made, their children have fulfilled.
In the completion of this great work of patriotic endeavor there is abundant cause for national rejoicing, for while this structure shall endure it shall be to all mankind a steadfast token of the affectionate and reverent regard in which this people continue to hold the memory of Washington. Well may he ever keep the foremost place in the hearts of his countrymen. The faith that never faltered; the wisdom that was broader and deeper than any learning taught in schools; the courage that shrank from no peril and was dismayed by no defeat; the loyalty that kept all selfish purpose subordinate to the demands of patriotism and honor; the sagacity that displayed itself in camp and cabinet alike; and above all that harmonious union of moral and intellectual qualities which has never found its parallel among men – these are the attributes of character which the intelligent thought of this century ascribes to the grandest figure of the last. But other and more eloquent lips than mine will today rehearse to you the story of his noble life and its glorious achievements. To myself has been assigned a simpler and more formal duty, in fulfillment of which I do now, as president of the United States and in behalf of the people, receive this monument from the hands of its builder and declare it dedicated from this time forth to the immortal name and memory of George Washington.
Visiting the Monument
While admission to the Washington Monument is free, you nonetheless need a ticket. You can obtain same-day “timed” tickets at the Washington Monument Lodge, located at Constitution Avenue and 15th Street SW, Washington, D.C.
- The lodge opens at 8:30 a.m., and tickets are distributed on a “first come, first served” basis.
- During peak tourist times (April through September), the line starts forming before 7:00 a.m., and tickets go quickly.
- One person can pick up as many as six tickets and select a preferred time from the remaining available tickets for that day.
- All visitors, including children of all ages, must have a ticket.
You can reserve tickets through the National Park website or by calling (877) 444-6777 for individual tickets, (877) 559-6777 for group reservations. However, there is a $1.50 service charge per ticket. Pick up reserved tickets at the Washington Monument Lodge “will call” window on the day of the tour.
The Washington Monument is open daily except July 4 and December 25.
Summer Hours: (May 31 through early September) 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., with the last tour beginning before 9:45 p.m.
Rest of Year: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the last tour beginning before 4:45 p.m.
For additional information, call (202) 426-6841.
The following items are prohibited in the Washington Monument:
- Animals (except certified guide dogs)
- Suitcases or large backpacks
- Guns or knives
- Food or drink
- Mace® or aerosol cans