I could feel the anticipation as I turned the corner. For the first time in almost three years, the day had finally come—the structure was once again open to everyone. The previous day had been reserved for the official re-opening: the ceremonial event, the media, the VIPs, contest winners, and well-deserved recognition of the individual whose generous donation had made it all possible. But now came the first of many days when anyone could ride an elevator to the best view in Washington, DC.
Nikon D800E with 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens, lens at 70mm, exposure: 1/250th sec @ f/16
The Washington Monument was the tallest structure in the world when it was completed in 1884, and is still the world’s tallest stone structure. You can find more information about the monument in my post of April 22, 2014 but today’s story is about the view. I had no idea what to expect. I feared that the number of people (about 100) and the short time before the next tour (about 30 minutes) would make it hard to get any image, let alone something decent. And with the sun still relatively low in the east there would be no chance for anything in that direction. But, as it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried. The elevator will hold about 15-20 passengers, there are eight viewing windows, and you can stay up there as long as you want. And everyone was quite polite, not hogging the windows and waiting patiently for their turn. Details on scoring your own ride on that elevator are at the end of this post.
(Technical Data: Nikon D800E with 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens, lens at 70mm, exposure: 1/250th sec @ f/16, EV at -0.67; eleven images combined with Photomerge in Photoshop CC)
The excitement of the other visitors as they looked out the windows was palpable. And when I stepped forward to get my first glimpse, the view was even more dramatic than I had expected. My first thought: “I’ll never be able to do justice to this view.”
(Technical Data: Nikon D800E with 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens, lens at 70mm, exposure: 1/250th sec @ f/16, EV at -0.67; three images combined with Photomerge in Photoshop CC)
To the south, the sweeping vista incorporated the Jefferson Memorial, the entire Tidal Basin, Reagan National Airport and the full breadth of the Potomac River. The departing and arriving aircraft seemed like tiny mosquitos.
(Technical Data: Nikon D800E with 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens, lens at 60mm, exposure: 1/250th sec @ f/16, EV at -0.67; eighteen images combined with Photomerge in Photoshop CC)
I quickly realized that I would have come back again and I am already thinking about ideas for the next time. Although the first morning tour is well after sunrise, it is open until after sunset. Without a doubt, there will be some future posts on this incredible place. A ranger told me they plan on adding tours in a few months that will allow you to walk up the stairs. If you are able to make such a climb (it takes about an hour), it would be well worth it. There are nearly 200 commemorative stones donated by all 50 states, organizations and foreign governments, some of them quite elaborate.
There are two ways to get your own admission ticket to the top of the Monument. You can take a chance and just show up early in the morning the day you want to visit. The ticket window opens at 8:30 and will distribute a limited number of tickets for that day until the supply runs out. Or you can order tickets in advance. Go to this link for further details about orders by phone and a link for placing online orders.
The ticket window is located on the backside of the Washington Memorial Lodge, a small white stone building located on 15th Street, directly east of the Monument. If you have “Will Call” tickets ordered online, you can pick them up inside the Lodge, which opens at 8:30 AM.