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  PRE-CONSTRUCTION, 1799 - 1836
1799: George Washington dies
1800: Congress approves resolution to erect pyramid as a mausoleum for Washington
1833: Citizens form the Washington National Monument Society to raise private funds and construct the monument
1836: Architect Robert Mills wins design contest; specifies a 500-foot obelisk surrounded by a circular Greek temple; the temple is never built, but the obelisk is

The monument was built during four stages.


1848 - 1854
152-foot level

1848: Cornerstone laid, construction begins
1854: Funds dwindle due to political unrest and Civil War, halting construction at 156 feet for 22 years

156-foot level

Late 1850s: Anti-Catholic activists stole building block donated by Pope Pius IX, seized Monument Society's offices

176-foot level

1876: Foundation, which was too weak and caused the monument to tilt, is excavated and fortified; President Ulysses S. Grant authorizes federal government to complete project

Full height: 555 feet 5 1/8 inches

1881-1884: Army Corp. of Engineers finishes final two-thirds of monument within three years
1884: Monument is topped with a 9-inch aluminum pyramid, one of the most rare and expensive metals of the time
1885: Monument is dedicated by President Chester A. Arthur
1888: Opened to the public

1959: Present elevator installed, cutting ascent time to 70 seconds
1998-2000: Congress and several private corporations fund $9.4 million to restore the monument, which has been ravaged by years of water and dirt.


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