End Notes
iBrief History of the Washington Monument
Although symbolic of fine ideals, the history of the building of the Washington National Monument is actually a convoluted saga of conspiracy, intrigue and political sabotage. (For an interesting historical narrative see: Tompkins, Peter: Magic of the Obelisk)
An original design for the monument was submitted by architect Robert Mills and approved in 1833. It called for a four sided obelisk 600 feet high, surrounded by an ornate Greco-Roman temple. Raising the funds to initiate the project however, took some fifteen years. Fate continually thwarted the project. Congress argued; funds were cut. The earth sank under the original site. The Civil War erupted and work stopped. Abandoned at 150 feet, the unfinished tower sat for twenty-five more years.Finally in 1880, work resumed. Major changes in the design were suggested by G.P.Marsh, a scholar of Egyptian obelisks. Marsh's plan called for a simple obelisk conforming to the proportions of the great Egyptian obelisks-a ratio of about ten to one, height to base, thus fixing the height of the Monument at 555 feet 5.125 inches and complementing the base side at 55 feet 1.5 inches. Fifty years after its inception, on February 21st l885, the completed Washington National Monument was dedicated.
iiI will predict that the information rendered by the shadow will be a significant part of the entire statement of the monument. When someone with adequate instrumentation completes the task, some marvels will be in store.
iii  (table)
Dimensions of the Washington Monument
 Feature  Park Service  My Measures  Indicated
Height of Oblisk
(555' 5 1/8")
North Side of Base   55' 1 3/8" 55.11458333'
West Side of Base   55' 1" 55.083333'
South Side of Base   55' 13/25" 55.0338547'
East Side of Base   55' 1" 55.083333'
Average Base Side 55'1 ½" (55.125') 55.0787' 55.06616449'
Perimeter of Base
220'4 ¾"
Diagonal of Base
77'11 ½"
(derived from square base)
  NE/SW 77.85140322'
NW/SE 78.00665029'
(Derived from rectangular base)
Height of
Base Side of
34' 5 ½"
  34' 5.857"
Perimeter at Base
of Pyramidian
137.8333'   137.9524072'
Surface Area of
Sides of Pyramidian
3824.875 sq ft   4012.36 sq ft
Cubic Volume of
21,966.46961 cu ft   22026.46602 cu ft
Surface Area of
Entire Obelisk
93408.82833 sq ft   93,586.83489 sq ft
Thickness of Walls
at Base: 15'
at Top of Shaft: 18"
Foundation Depth36' 10"    
Weight90,854 Tons    
ivIt is speculated by some that the influence and participation of the Masonic Order in the erection of this monument and in the history of this country, alludes to a tradition of mysticism and sacred knowledge amongst the founding fathers. It is evident however that early in the process of developing the nation's standards, they recognized the importance of commensurability between the affairs of commerce, law, politics and the natural order. They strove to initiate an harmonious system of weights, measure, currency and scientific standards that reflected integration of the disciplines.

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Copyright 1996–1999 Bernard  I. Pietsch.