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Washington Monument: Topics in Chronicling America

In October 1888, the Washington Monument officially opens after years of planning and construction. This guide provides access to material related to the "Washington Monument" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Washington's Monument." February 21, 1885. The National Republican (Washington, DC), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

“Highest on Earth, The Washington Monument is Loftiest of its Kind,” proclaimed the October 24, 1894 Abbeville Press and Banner, 10 years after the monument was finished. One of D.C.’s most renowned architectural marvels that honors one of America’s most renowned historical figures, the Washington Monument at the time of its completion was the tallest building in the world. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


March 1836 Calls for designs of the monument are published in newspapers.
May - June 1848 Announcements that the cornerstone will be laid on July 4th.
February 1849 President Polk issues deed that authorizes the building of the monument on public grounds.
January - May 1853 Building continues as planned, surpasses the 100 foot mark.
March 1854 Story denounces vandals for stealing stone donated by Pope Pius IX from Rome.
May 1855 Superintendent ejected from grounds.
May - June 1876 Congressional debates resume about appropriating funds for the completion of the monument.
August - December 1878 Washington Monument Commission created to ensure the monument’s completion.
December 1884 The monument is finally finished! On February 21, 1885 the monument is dedicated to Washington.
March 1885 Comparisons to other architectural structures begin to appear in newspapers, celebrating the great feat.
October 1888 The monument officially opens to the public.