Washington is famous for its shrines and memorials. Indeed, Washington and landmarks go together like a horse and carriage, Laurel and Hardy, and Woodward and Lothrop. Surely, they attract thousands of tourists to this town.

But over the last few years, a different sort of landmark has been creeping into Washington. I'm talking about construction cranes. You know, those latticed steel truss affairs that dwarf just about everything within a square block. And it's the strangest thing. You never see them going up or coming down. All of a sudden, they're just there -- like mushrooms on a soggy lawn.

The crane invasion first struck me several weeks ago. One day, while looking out my office window, which overlooks Fifth and F streets NW, I saw a crane creature towering above everything in sight, like a skyscraper. It bore the name of the construction company "HYMAN" in big bold letters.

"Doesn't that look weird?" I said to my coworkers. They concurred.

When the next week rolled around, there were two of them there, and that really looked weird. Ever since, I have been avidly searching the D.C. environs for such creatures. And they're all over. I even found one atop the Washington Cathedral!

I believe no place in town will be spared from these creatures. And the worst thing is that they seem to follow enormously large holes in the ground -- holes that take up a city block.

Maybe these monsters were put here by someone who wanted to show us what the landscape might have looked like in prehistoric times. These cranes seem to simulate the lifestyles and eating habits of the brontosaurus. Just as those dinosaurs chomped on tree tops and other such goodies, today's cranes do likewise -- except their menu has changed to cement souffle and brick fricassee.

The Smithsonian ought to check this out. Maybe after these creatures become extinct, like their reptilian ancestors, there might be a place for them on the Mall. A spot in front of the Museum of American History would be ideal.