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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Fall 2002 arrow District of Columbia: Security Upgrades at the Washington Monument
District of Columbia: Security Upgrades at the Washington Monument

Agency: National Park Service

Standing tall as a prominent symbol in the Nation’s capital, the Washington Monument has received visitors from all over the world since 1888. The 555-foot obelisk and its grounds are slated to receive permanent security measures to replace the existing temporary barriers.

The plan has required an expedited but intensive consultation process to enable the interested public to participate in examining the potential effects of the proposed modifications on this important National Register property.

The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing permanent security measures for the Washington Monument and its grounds, which NPS administers. The security upgrade would be combined with visitor enhancements that include an underground visitor facility and tunnel leading to the monument through its foundation; the historic 1888 Monument Lodge’s use as a visitors’ entrance to the monument; and a new system of walkways and low walls to minimize
recognizable security barriers on the grounds.

ACHP members and staff tour the Washington Monument grounds, Washington, DC



ACHP members and staff tour the Washington Monument grounds, March 2002, Washington, DC (staff photo)



In May 2002, ACHP signed an agreement with NPS, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) that outlines a streamlined review process for the monument’s permanent security improvements.

Consulting parties in the Section 106 process included a number of organizations such as the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As plans have developed, Section 106 consultation meetings have provided a forum for consideration of concerns that have been raised by a number of the participants.

Some consider the Monument Lodge too small to serve as an entrance to both the monument and the proposed underground facility, and they are concerned that the new construction might be incompatible with the character of the monument and the lodge. In addition, they point out that a tunnel must be excavated with care to ensure that the ground upon which the 90,854-ton monument sits is not destabilized.

The plan as currently proposed would change the visitor’s experience as well, and differing views have been expressed as to whether such change would be positive. Visitors would enter the monument through a tunnel under the monument’s lobby, and would exit through the lobby. For visitors viewing the monument from the grounds, the experience would be altered by a skylight and walkways with low retaining walls intersecting the grounds.

As consultation continues on the plan, ACHP will be reviewing studies NPS develops to identify appropriate parameters for modifications to the monument and grounds.

Staff contact: Martha Catlin

Posted November 6, 2002

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