Washington DC Monuments
Driving Tour of DC
Established in 1799, the Washington Navy Yard is the oldest naval complex in the country and has served in various capacities including as a ship construction and repair site, an equipment and ordnance manufacturing facility, and a center for research and experimentation. The Navy Yard is now used primarily for ceremonial and administrative purposes and is home to several Navy organizations including the Chief of Naval Operations, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the Naval History and Heritage Command, the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps, the Marine Corps Institute, and the United States Navy Band. The Navy Yard is also home to the National Museum of the United States Navy and the Cold War Gallery, which is a part of the museum. Numerous buildings of historical significance are located here as well including the famous Latrobe Gate on the Yard's north side.
Eastern Market, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, has been providing fresh produce and handmade arts and crafts for more than a century. It has been both a neighborhood market and gathering spot since it opened in 1873, and continues the tradition of a public market operating in this area since the turn of the nineteenth century. The building was designed by architect Adolph Cluss, with an addition by Snowden Ashford. Though the building's physical structure, management, and tenants have evolved over the past century and a half, it is the only remaining public market in the city still serving its intended purpose of supplying goods to city residents.
Union Station, the third most-visited tourist destination in the world, services more than 37 million passengers, tourists, and shoppers each year. Designed by famed architectural planner Daniel Burnham, Union Station was created to provide a centralized location for trains running into the nation's capital. The rapid growth of the city necessitated renovation to the building, creating more restaurants, shops, and services. Today, Union Station is also a major connecting hub for Amtrak, MARC, Greyhound, and the DC Metro.
The United States Supreme Court Building houses the highest federal court in the nation. Prior to the building’s completion in 1935, the Supreme Court has occupied various places, including in New York City and Philadelphia while the capital was being built, and inside the U.S. Capitol Building and in public and private spaces around Washington, D.C. After pressed by Chief Justice William Howard Taft, Congress approved a Supreme Court Building where landmark cases in American history would be heard. It designed by Cass Gilbert, who chose a neoclassical style that complements courts across the country and other federal buildings in D.C.
The United States Capitol building is the home to the United States Congress. As one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Capitol serves as a working office building and monument to American history. Visitors are welcome to attend tours and explore exhibits. The original portion of the building was completed in 1800 and has been expanded through the years.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art. It features the work of American artists from the colonial period to the present. The museum houses the largest collection of New Deal art in the world and features a number of exhibitions that highlight the contributions of African American and Latino artists. The Smithsonian American Art Museum has consistently maintained a traveling exhibition program since 1951. More than 2.5 million patrons have viewed the exhibitions to date.
The National Archives and Records Administration operates the National Archives and the National Archives Museum. Everyone is welcome to explore U.S. history and heritage through the National Archives. In the Rotunda of the National Archives Building, visitors will find the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. NARA was created in 1934, an independent agency of the U.S. government, and is the official repository for all federal records judged to be of enduring value. Its contents date back to the 18th century. The National Archives Building holds several museum galleries that offer exhibits that change throughout the year in addition to the public vaults and the rotunda which holds the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.
The National Museum of African American History & Culture was authorized by Congress and President George W. Bush in 2003. After 13 years of planning and construction, the museum opened on September 24th, 2016. The museum holds over 40,000 artifacts within its vaults, most of which were donated by institutions and individuals. Several thousand of artifacts are included in the museum's twelve galleries. The museum's three-tiered form is meant to symbolize hands held in prayer and was modeled from the shape of a traditional Yoruban crown. As of November, 2016, this museum uses a timed pass system to accommodate large crowds.
A National Historic landmark, the U.S. Department of Treasury Building was constructed in multiple phases dating back to the 1830s.. Prior to that time, the first Treasury building was a simple two-story brick structure with a basement and attic. This modest treasury was damaged by fire within its first six months. During the repair of the original treasury building, a vault extension was added, a feature that would be the only part of the building to survive the War of 1812. As the nation and its government grew following the War of 1812, Congress decided to build a more permanent structure for its treasury. Architect Robert Mills won the design competition and construction began in the 1830s. The project ran into multiple difficulties and Congress even debated whether they should demolish what Mills had started. Congress decided to stick with Mills and his design, and the building was completed in 1842. It would be expanded during the 1850s and also in the midst of the Civil War.
Designed by architect James Hoban and built in coordination with George Washington and other American leaders, the Executive Mansion is known informally around the world as "The White House." Although President Washington oversaw construction, he never lived in the house. President John Adams, elected in 1796 as the second President, and First Lady Abigail Adams were the first residents of the White House, which was still unfinished at the time. It completed in 1800, though construction and restoration projects have taken place ever since. It was partially burned by the British in the War of 1812. Contrary to the popular story that it was painted white to hide burn marks, the White House was simply painted white in 1818. The building was known as the White House prior to this time because of lime-based whitewash that was used to protect the exterior. The White House also includes two wings: the West Wing, built in the early 1900s under Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, and the East Wing, first built by President Theodore Roosevelt and significantly expanded in 1942 to include an underground bunker and office spaces. In all, the White House complex covers around 18 acres and includes gardens and spacious lawns.
The Daughters of the American Revolution is a women's service organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education, patriotism, and honoring the patriots of the Revolutionary War. Their headquarters and museum are located in the within walking distance of President's Park and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The museum, located in the 1904 Memorial Continental Hall, is dedicated to preserving the history, art, and artifacts of pre-industrial America. Established in 1890, the museum has 33 American period rooms with a collection expanding more than 30,000 items, including coverlets, furniture, costumes, ceramics, miniatures, toys, dolls, silver, glass, and musical instruments used or made in America in the preindustrial period (1700 to 1850).
Opened in 2004, the World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the United States Armed Forces, the more than 400,000 members who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the millions who supported war efforts on the home front. This is the only memorial related to an event in the 20th century that appears in the central axis of the National Mall. It is part of the National Park Service's National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Perhaps the most iconic monument in the nation's capital, the Washington Monument honors America's first president, George Washington. The monument dates back to 1833, when the National Monument Society began raising funds for the completion of this and other monuments. The Society ran out of funds in 1856 and the monument sat unfinished until 1876, when construction resumed. The monument was completed in 1885 and the two different colors of stone demonstrate that two different quarries were used between the project's start and its eventual completion. Today, it is part of the National Park Service's National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Established in 1993, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is dedicated to educating citizens about the events of the Holocaust and strives to confront contemporary instances of genocide and anti-Semitism. The museum contains a permanent exhibit that operates on a free ticketing system owing to continued public demand and the importance of allowing each visitor to experience the exhibits at their own pace. The museum also offers a variety of temporary exhibits and special events such as conversations with Holocaust survivors and lectures by scholars and artists. The museum also operates a research library with a vast collection of publications, photographs, documents, and other artifacts related to the Holocaust.
As part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is responsible for the printing of all currency notes. The bureau prints billions of Federal Reserve Notes, or dollars, each year for delivery to the Federal Reserve System, which makes sure enough currency and coins are in circulation. The coins are produced at the Mint. The organization offers tours and exhibits, and researchers can use the Bureau's Historical Resource Center which includes two million objects related to the history of engraving and printing for the federal government. Paper money was not utilized until the start of the Civil War, so the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has its origins in legislation enacted to help fund the Union Army. In the first years of paper money, workers printed and trimmed currency notes by hand. Over time, the Bureau was also tasked with printing stamps. In 1877, the BEP became the sole producer of all United States currency. Today, the BEP no longer produces postage stamps and has an additional production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial in Washington, D.C. dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father and the third President of the United States. Built between 1939 and 1943, the Jefferson Memorial was designed by John Russell Pope in neoclassical architecture styles reminiscent of Jefferson's estate Monticello, the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and the Pantheon in Rome. The memorial interior includes a bronze statue of Jefferson by Rudulph Evans and five of Jefferson's notable quotations. It is situated on the picturesque Tidal Basin on the National Mall, managed by the National Park Service.
This West Potomac Park memorial commemorates the thirty-second President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). Elected to the presidency four consecutive times (1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944), he served for a total of just over twelve years. During his time in office, Roosevelt enacted the New Deal to combat the effects of the Great Depression and prevent something like it from happening again. Later in his tenure, he shepherded the nation through the Second World War, the deadliest conflict in human history. On April 12, 1945, while vacationing in Warm Springs, Georgia, Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of sixty-three. Following his death, Congress established the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Commission in 1955. After nearly two decades of delay, the commission chose landscape architect Lawrence Halprin to design the memorial in 1974. Dedicated on May 2, 1997 by President Bill Clinton, it consists of five loosely-defined outdoor areas, four of which focus on Roosevelt’s four terms in office. Constructed of over four and a half tons of South Dakota red granite and utilizing 100,000 gallons of water, the memorial features several bronze sculptures and reliefs designed by various artists, in addition to a large waterfall, reflecting pool, and numerous quotations etched into the granite walls. After the National Organization on Disability criticized the memorial for not adequately addressing Roosevelt’s disability, a bronze sculpture of the president in his wheelchair was added in 2001.
This West Potomac Park memorial commemorates one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). A Baptist minister and advocate of non-violent protest, he rose to prominence within the movement and became a national figure as a result of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956). Between 1957 and 1964, King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, organized the famous March on Washington, and received the Nobel Peace Prize, among other things. On April 4, 1968, while in Memphis to lend his support to striking sanitation workers, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray. Nearly thirty years after King’s death, Congress authorized his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, to erect a memorial in his honor in the nation’s capital. After its formation, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation selected West Potomac Park's Tidal Basin as the memorial’s site and held a design competition, which drew more than 900 entrants. In 2000, the foundation selected the proposal submitted by ROMA Design Group. To execute the work, the group hired Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin. Dedicated in 2011, the memorial consists of a thirty-foot-tall rough granite mountain with a large section sliced from it. The section features a relief of King, standing defiantly with arms crossed. The design was inspired by a line from the civil rights leader’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” in which he states: “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
These Yoshino cherry trees, or sakura, were a gift from the city of Tokyo, Japan to the United States and were planted in 1912 in a small ceremony with First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Iwa Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador to the United States. The trees symbolized the friendship between the two nations, and was the culmination of several years' work trying to transport trees to the US without disease or pests. These trees were the first of over 3,000 trees from Japan planted in the nation's capital. The city began celebrating the Cherry Blossom festival in 1935 and the symbolic planting of two cherry trees has been a reoccurring event in Japanese-American diplomacy for decades.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial, situated just off of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, honors those who served in the Korean War. The memorial was commissioned by the U.S. Congress on October 28, 1986 and the design and construction of the monument was jointly managed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board and the American Battle Monuments Commission. The final design selected for the monument was created by Washington architectural firm Cooper-Lecky, following a bitter dispute that involved a government-sponsored design contest and four students from The Pennsylvania State University (see NY Times article below). The groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 14, 1992 and the memorial was dedicated on the 42nd anniversary of the end of the conflict-- July 27, 1995. The memorial is managed by the National Mall and Memorial Parks division of the National Park Service.
An iconic symbol of freedom stands in the center of our nation’s capital: the Lincoln Memorial. This grand monument to one of our most influential presidents has been the site of countless concerts, speeches, and protests -- including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Dedicated to the Savior of the Union, the memorial and its history call to mind the human rights struggles our nation has faced, from the Civil War to the March on Washington. Today, it is overseen by the National Park Service and is part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
This memorial to the 58,272 American military personnel who perished or were declared missing in action (MIA) during the Vietnam War was completed in 1982. The wall, in addition to the Three Servicemen Statue and the Vietnam Women's Memorial, is part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The memorial demonstrates the way that public perception of monuments can change over time. The initial design for the monument at the National Mall received criticism from leading conservative politicians who hoped to create a memorial that was similar to other war monuments that depicted soldiers and military leaders. Some politicians and commentators even attacked the designer, 21-year old student May Lin, because she was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. By the time of the monument's dedication, however, most Americans approved of the monument's design. Those who saw the monument in person were moved to see the reflections of the living in the Black granite wall as they reflected upon the names of the dead.
The Old Naval Observatory is located on Navy Hill in the historic neighborhood of Foggy Bottom. The observatory contains the oldest refracting telescope in the country, a device that was installed in 1873 and is still operational. The observatory was the institutional home of the pioneering oceanographer and astronomer Matthew Fontaine Maury. The complex contained a photographic zenith tube that helped furthered mankind's understanding of time by marking the position of stars crossing the zenith and giving the world the conception of Greenwich Mean Time (Universal Time). The building was added to the List of National Historic Landmarks in Washington, D.C. in January, 1965, and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places the following year.
Walking out of the Historic District, you can continue to appreciate area art by heading to the Watergate Complex. At the corner of 25th and H Streets, cross Virginia Avenue to the Watergate lower level. In the courtyard area you'll see a variety of sculptures and artwork. Dale Johnson, owner of Watergate Gallery and Frame Design, supports a diverse group of artists by exhibiting their work in the open space. The sculptures change, but there are always several pieces on display.By now, you might want to take a break from all you have seen. You can stop at one of the places in the lower courtyard or head back to street level and try Tazza Cafe on New Hampshire Avenue across from the side steps of the Kennedy Center. Or head back to Circa, Tonic/Quigley, GW Deli, or any of the restaurants in the Foggy Bottom/GWU area.As you walked through the Historic District and it peaked your curiosity about he narrow modest row houses and neighborhood history, try our "Foggy Bottom Historic District Walking Tour" (see link below). Use your phone, tablet, or desktop to visit the 19 stops and learn about the Historic District's people, lifestyles, history, art, and architecture. The tour tracks the neighborhood’s transition from working class in the 1870s to its current status. Each stop features a summary, descriptive details, images from past to present, and sources for additional information. Thank you so much for selecting this walking tour. Our Foggy Bottom Historic District Walking tours show that this once industrial neighborhood, which was saved from destruction, now has much to offer. We hope you will return often to walk the tree-lined streets as they change with the seasons.
The British Embassy in Washington, D.C. maintains a close relationship with the United States and provides consular assistance to British nationals. Britain and the United States have one of the longest and most significant international alliances, dating back to 1785. The British representative body moved around D.C. eleven times before establishing the complex on Massachusetts Avenue in the 1920s. The complex consists of the Ambassador’s Residence, built in the 1920s and part of the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District, landscaped grounds and gardens, and a contemporary office space built in the 1950s. Though not open for tours, the British Embassy occasionally hosts public events such as the EU Open House.
The Naval Observatory was established in 1830 as a small operation intended to repair and rate navigational instruments. In 1842, Congress provided funding to convert this small instrument shop into an institute for the study of oceanography, geography, and astronomy. The Observatory was originally located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. In 1893, it was moved to its present location atop Observatory Hill. The grounds of the Observatory include Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.
The Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopal Church that serves as the national church of the United States. A spiritual and social gathering place for people across the country and the world, the National Cathedral offers Episcopal and interfaith services, concerts, tours, and exhibits. The National Cathedral is an architectural marvel, standing as the second largest cathedral in the United States and the sixth largest in the world. Plans for the Cathedral were commissioned by George Washington in 1791, though construction did not begin until 1907. It was formally completed in 1990, with some work continuing on decorative aspects of the interior and in repairing damage from a 2011 earthquake. The Cathedral has been open throughout most of its construction, with numerous events of historical note taking place within its walls including memorial services, prayer services, speeches, political events, and inaugurations.
The Georgetown Market is a historic market house in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. Built in 1865, the market was built into a pre-existing market structure dating back to 1795. On May 6th of 1971, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The market underwent renovations in recent years, and it currently hosts a number of businesses.
Dedicated by President and former Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, the US Marine Corps War Memorial is based on one of the most iconic images in American military history. The memorial depicts six men raising the American flag over the island of Iwo Jima as a sign that the Marines had won control of that strategic island after a long-fought battle. The American victory and control of Iwo Jima gave U.S. forces control of an island and airfields that was within striking distance of Japan, a feat that demonstrated that the nearly three-year-long struggle in the Pacific was finally coming to a close.
Nestled among the rolling hills overlooking the capital city Washington D.C. and the Potomac River, Arlington National Cemetery honors those who have died in service to our country. The cemetery sits on land that was once part of Robert E. Lee’s family estate and was appropriated by the Union after the Lee family fled at the onset of the Civil War. In an ironic move born of political ill-will and necessity, the Union began burying their soldiers on the Confederate general’s estate. Through an illegal tax ordinance, the federal government took control of the estate and purchased it at a public auction. After the war, the family sued the government and won back the estate, however they had no desire to return so they sold it back to the federal government. Through many years of military burials and the addition of new memorials, the Lee family estate has become the Arlington National Cemetery we know today. Currently, the gardens and grounds of this 624 acre cemetery serve as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within.
The National September 11th Pentagon Memorial is located on the southern side of the Pentagon and was constructed in remembrance of the 184 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The Pentagon Memorial was the first memorial of its kind to be completed and was dedicated on September 11, 2008. Since that time, many other memorials have been created throughout New York, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania.
Designed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1943, the Pentagon is a symbol of the United States’ military power and strength. The Pentagon has been the site of military planing, anti-war protests, ceremonies honoring soldiers and officers, and foreign terrorist attacks. This unique building houses the US Department of Defense and is the hub of activity during war time. It faced the threat of nuclear attacks during the Cold War and was the site of a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.