Capstone Placed on the Washington Monument

Here’s a drawing we found from the Library of Congress depicting the finishing touches on the Washington Monument – the placement of the capstone.

This capstone, made of aluminum, was placed atop the monument in 1885, 37 years after construction on the monument began. See images of its halted construction here. The capstone has gotten a lot of attention for the inscription on its East facing side, which says Laus Deo, meaning “Praise be to God”. The capstone also got attention in Dan Brown’s book The Lost Symbol.

Installation of the capstone on the Washington Monument
Installation of the capstone on the Washington Monument

Source: Library of Congress

About Sam E.

Sam is a new contributor to Ghosts of DC and Ghosts of Baltimore. He has been a long time fan of the website. As someone who can lose hours looking at old pictures and reading about DC history, the blog is a perfect outlet for him to explore the history of the District.

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  • Kirk Halgren

    When this was set into place, aluminum was as precious as sterling silver. We think of it as cheap, but that was only after the aircraft industry developed better means of producing it. This monument took the title of Earth’s tallest structure from the Great Pyramid at Giza, to lose it in turn in 1888 when the Eiffel Tower went up.