Washington Monument

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Quick Overview

This is the National Park Service audio-only described version of the  Washington Monument’s official brochure. When folded it is a four inch by eight inch piece of paper. When unfolded it is sixteen by eight inches. Text and images are on both sides of the brochure, which includes the history of the monument, a brief biography of George Washington, and details about visiting the monument. 

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Side One Overview

The main image on side one is a photograph of the Washington Monument. It fills the entire page. The monument is a tall, light-colored stone obelisk that rises in front of a cloudless blue sky. At the bottom of the photo is the concrete and grass ground. In the foreground are four large American flags flying in the breeze from tall flagpoles. In the background and behind the monument are more American flags flying from their flagpoles, all of which combined to create a circle around the monument. A cyclist riding along the path in front of the monument is at the bottom center of the photo.

At the very top of the brochure is a black, one inch band across its width. The words Washington Monument are on the far left. On the far right are the words National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, Washington DC. The National Park Service logo, a small brown, white, and green arrowhead symbol is at the extreme right of the black band.

Just below the black band on the right of the photo is a quotation. Near the middle of the photo on the left is the main text. They are presented under their own sections. 

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TEXT: Quotation

“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee

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Main Text

Among the founders of the United States, George Washington alone earned the title "Father of his Country," in recognition of his leadership in the cause of American independence. In 1775 he molded a fighting force that won independence from Great Britain. 


In 1787, as president of the Constitutional Convention, he helped guide the deliberations to form a government that has lasted over two centuries. In 1789 George Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States. Washington defined the presidency and helped develop the relationships among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. He established precedents that successfully launched the new government on its course. President Washington remained ever mindful of the ramifications, of his actions, for he was a consummate statesman. With this monument the citizens of the United States show their enduring gratitude and respect.

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Side Two Overview

Side two of the brochure is gold in color. A one inch black, horizontal band is at the very top and a half inch black band is at the very bottom. The top half features a large, oval painting of George Washington in a blue and gold military uniform. In the oval-shaped painting , Washington faces slightly toward his right. His facial expression is serious but calm. His long, white hair is combed back and his sideburn reaches below his ear. His dark blue uniform jacket has gold-colored accents including fringed shoulder decoration, collar, and extra wide lapels. Gold-rimmed buttons are outside of the lapels, three on the right side and two on the left. Around his neck is a snugly wrapped white scarf. Below the portrait, at the middle of the brochure, is a yellow band, under which is a short biography of Washington. Below is additional text about building and visiting the monument and two images. These subjects and descriptions are presented under their own sections.

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TEXT: Washington--The Man

George Washington was born February 22, 1732, on his father's plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia. As a young man he worked as a surveyor, gaining detailed knowledge of western lands and a taste for adventure. When Washington was 21, Virginia's royal governor sent him into the Ohio Valley to warn the French to stay out of lands claimed by Great Britain. In the ensuing French and Indian War, 1754 to 1763, Washington received his first military experience. Fame gained on the field of battle led to his first political victory, election to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he served during the growing political difficulties with Great Britain.

He represented Virginia in the Continental Congress, and in 1775, Congress chose him to command American troops. He located and selected talented officers for the Continental Army that he led in a successful war against England, the most powerful nation in the world. By war's end Washington had become identified with the American Revolution's triumphant conclusion, and he commanded enough respect to assume any role he chose.

Instead, he willingly laid down the powers Congress bestowed, resigned his commission, and returned to Mount Vernon. As the young federation faltered the people again looked to Washington for leadership, now in peace, as they had in war. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Washington was elected presiding officer. The new Constitution provided for a president to head the government. and Washington was the ideal choice. He served for two terms, 1789 to 1797, and refused pressure to run for a third. Once again he retired to Mount Vernon where he was available to answer his country's call until his death on December 14, 1799.


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TEXT and IMAGE: Building the Monument

TEXT: The Washington Monument at 555 feet and 5 and one eighth inches, towers over everything in the Nation's Capital and reminds us of the immensity of George Washington's contribution to this republic. The monument resembles a classic Egyptian obelisk and has little in common with the colonnaded temple originally designed by Robert Mills to house statues of Washington and other American heroes. The cornerstone was laid July 4, 1848, in a ceremony attended by President James K. Polk and other dignitaries, among whom were representatives Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. The monument rose steadily to 156 feet, financed by popular subscriptions collected by the Washington National Monument Society. Construction stopped in 1858 due to lack of funding. It stood unfinished for over 18 years until President Ulysses S. Grant, in 1876, approved an act authorizing the federal government to complete the project. In 1878 Lt. Col. Thomas Casey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, took control, simplified the design by Mills, and resumed construction, In December 1884, a 3300 pound marble capstone, (see photo at right) was placed on the obelisk and topped with a 9-inch pyramid of cast aluminum, a rare metal in 1884. The monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885

Photo description: To the right of the text is a small, black and white photo of the monument’s top capstone on the floor. It is a white pyramid with a flat top, To the left of the pyramid is a pulley. Behind the pyramid and in the distance is a small six-paned window.

Drawing description: Placed at the bottom left of the brochure within the text is a small, black and white drawing of the Washington Monument, only a quarter completed. Scaffolding rises above the monument. The Smithsonian castle and a flag atop a flagpole are at the left in the photo and the monument. In the foreground, a person fishes in the river.

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TEXT: Visiting the Monument

The monument is open daily except December 25. Free tickets for a timed entrance are required, they are available at the ticket kiosk at 15th Street and Madison Drive. A 70-second elevator ride takes visitors to the 500-foot level for spectacular views of the city. Rangers periodically lead tours past 195 memorial stones. The monument is one of 419 parks in the National Park System. The National Park Service cares for these special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. To learn more about national parks and NPS programs in America's communities visit www.nps.gov.



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OVERVIEW: More Information

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TEXT: Photo Credits

Washington Monument photograph: copyright held by Paul M. Franklin

Portrait of George Washington: Mount Vernon Ladies Association

Washington Monument construction illustration: Seth Eastman, 1851 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Washington Monument Capstone Photograph: Library of Congress

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