After three years and $15 million dollars worth of repairs as a result of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August 2011, DC's most recognized landmark (and the world's tallest freemasonry structure) reopened for business back in May 2014. Once again, I was ecstatic to take the 70 second-long elevator ascent to the monument's 500-foot observation deck and enjoy what is perhaps considered the most stunning view of DC. A National Park Service Ranger accompanies you and shares the history and unique tidbits of the obelisk dedicated to the President and General who was regarded as "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." For instance did you know upon completion in 1884, only men were allowed to use the then-steam powered elevator because it was deemed to dangerous for women? Therefore, women had to climb all 897 steps to get to the top. Fortunately, we don't have to do that anymore.
Timed tickets are required to enter and are available on a first come, first serve basis at the monument lodge located along 15th Street NW. Tip: although the ticket window opens at 8:30am, it's best to line up 1-2 hours early as tickets are usually gone by late morning.
Bleary eyed and equipped with my camera and tripod, I set out to capture the 6:40 am sun rise over the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. DC's cherry trees peak bloom only lasts one week out of the year, usually in late March or early April.
I was worried I’d have to stake out a good spot since it's one of the most crowded times in the nation's capital, but was surprised to find parking easily and was joined by only a small handful of friendly photographers and early bird joggers. I found a great vantage point near the Martin Luther King (MLK) Memorial where I could peacefully observe both the Jefferson and Washington Memorials greet the day. Guess it's true what they say, the early bird gets the worm!