The Washington Monument is a 550-foot obelisk and still stands in the middle of Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Mall.
Washington died in 1799. Ten days after his death, Congress began discussing a fitting and permanent tribute to the nation’s beloved first president. Their proposal to have Washington’s body entombed at the Capitol was firmly rejected by his widow, Martha. Finally, in 1835, the Washington National Monument Society sponsored a competition for potential monument designs. They wanted a memorial that would reflect Washington’s "stupendousness and elegance."
In 1848, South Carolinian architect, Robert Mills’ design was chosen. The site for the monument was chosen for its visibility from all vantage points around Washington, particularly from Washington’s grave at his estate, Mount Vernon, in Virginia.
The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848 by the Brotherhood of Freemasons. Construction began in 1848 and took 30 years to complete. Work was interrupted by the Civil War (1861-64) and at various points due to lack of federal funding.
Robert Mills died in 1854 and never saw the completion of his project. The monument officially opened to the public in 1888.