Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Profile: Washington Memorial

I know this isn't the best of pictures of the Washington Memorial, but this is apparently the only photo I have taken of it. This is from St. Patrick's Day, I don't recall taking any pictures around Mount Vernon, so guess it was a great St. Patty's Day!

It's hard not to see the Washington Memorial when you are out and about in the city. It sits on the highest point in Baltimore, and is 178 feet tall, so you can't miss it. Interestingly enough, it was conceived and construction began well before it's more famous cousin in Washington DC. Construction started in 1815, but wouldn't be completed for fourteen years.

The memorial is made up of three basic parts: Pedestal, Column, and George. The pedestal recounts the date that Washington took command and when he resigned is commission after the American Revolution, as well as his victories as Commander-in-Chief (all FOUR of them!) The tall marble Doric column stands atop the pedestal and standing on top is the 16-foot tall statue of GW.

The Memorial was, in 1829, the second tallest structure in the city (behind the Shot Tower), and even though that has long been eclipsed it is still a striking fixture on the skyline. It sits literally at the heart of the city in Mount Vernon, surrounded by Lafayette, Taney, and Howard. Although the hustle and bustle of the city goes on below, the good General still watches over from his perch.

One of the most unique Baltimore traditions (and by far my favorite) involves the Memorial, at Christmas time. New York has it's tree in Rockefeller Center and DC has their National Tree, but we do it a little differently here in Bmore: we just light up George. Lights are strung up the column, and in the most secular of ways we celebrate the holidays!

For a $1 you can walk up the monument, so next time you find yourself in Mount Vernon take a walk up (only 228 steps) to the top, but beware the railing is very low, people were shorter in 1829.

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