This day in history, December 6, 1884, the Washington Monument was completed.
The Washington Monument was completed by Army engineers 101 years after George Washington himself approved the location halfway between the proposed sites of the Capitol and the White House.
Construction did not begin on the 555-foot Egyptian obelisk until July 4, 1848, when a private citizens’ group, the Washington National Monument Society, raised enough money to begin the project. The original design called for the familiar obelisk surrounded by a large building with a statue of Washington driving a Roman chariot on top.
Construction was halted in 1854 when the money ran out and for 22 years the monument stood embarrassingly unfinished, looking, as Mark Twain put it, like “a factory chimney with the top broken off.” In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant authorized the funds to complete the construction–but without the ornate building and classical statue. When the final capstone and 9-inch aluminum pyramid were set in place in 1884, the Washington Monument was the tallest structure in the world.