“This one is the best, not the Washington Monument, Cathedral, or anywhere else. All the other ones are no where near as good. The Washington Monument windows are too small. The Cathedral is too far away from anywhere. This one is the best.”
Call me skeptical, but I sometimes feel that people over exaggerate how great things are. Especially something with this guy’s name on it. Is this view going to make America Great Again?
With the Washington Monument closed until at least 2019, where is the best view of the city? Or rather the best publically accessed view of the city.
Some say it’s the National Cathedral, with its gorgeous views from the central tower. However, given it’s location it can be a bit hard to see some of the places you may want to see from above.
Additionally the Cathedral is not free. Entrance to the Cathedral runs about 10 dollars. Guided Tours of the towers are certainly by no means cheap either. And it’s not also very convenient to get to either.
So it was sad that the best, free, central location was closed down. What’s a tourist to do?
So when you are wandering around the downtown area you do notice there are other towers located around. Most of which however don’t have any access to the public. But I did notice an old historic building that has been the center of controversy lately. The old National Post Office Building that has become the new Trump International Hotel.
Yes, that hotel, the one that seemed to have drawn angry condemnations and protestors and calls for investigations into corruption by Foreign delegations currying. However this post is not about the hotel, it’s about the tower and museum that still are operated by the National Parks Service. If you know me, you know my opinion about the conversion to the hotel, but this post isn’t about politics or hotels, it’s about beautiful views…
Entering the Museum and Tower
The entrance to the museum and tower are on 12th Street near the Starbucks coffee shop. You’ll see signs for the Old Post office tower. The hotel entrance however is on 11th street. Do not use this entrance if your plan is to visit the tower and museum as you’ll just be sent outside.
The museum is a series of photographs and captions from the legacy building, when it was a post office building. Back from when people did not really like this building until when it become an important historical building and until now when it is now the hotel. I’m really glad they preserved some of the building here and the history so that people can explore and not turn it all over to private industry. I do like that some of this place still exists for public benefit.
Building in the late 19th Century (between 1892 and 1899) as the headquarters of the Post Office Department (and city post office). The building was the 2nd tallest building in DC (after the Washington Monument) and a bit loved and unloved by the people of the city. The building eventually was considered too confining for postal operations and most of them eventually moved out of the building.
Actually in the 1928 the building was slated for demolition, however it was actually saved due to the Great Depression. This was part of the development of the federal triangle area. However, there just weren’t enough funds to actually carry out demolition, so the building was saved.
Again in 1964, the building was recommended for demolition (except for the tower) and for re-development of the area. However due to local pressure the building was saved again for demolition. Actually over the decades that followed the building went through renovation, was declared a national historic site, and changed hands various times. There was at various times plans to rent out areas as a commercial space. Actually the building has beautiful architecture and its wonderful that it was preserved. In 2016 the building became it’s present form with the opening of the Trump International Hotel.
One of my favorite things in the museum was this door below. It is one of the original vault doors that stored some of the valuables in the post office (stamps, money orders, etc.). The vault was not originally in this place but was moved here as part of the museum. You can see of the folks looking through it to see what’s on the other side (really nothing). Still such a cool door and piece of history.
You’ll have to take a set of two elevators to get up to the 12th floor. One of the interesting things is that you can see into the hotel if you are curious about it (you can also visit it, although camera’s are not allowed (but cellphones are)). You get a nice view looking down into the lobby there.
Once you get up to the top of the tower you are treated to a really good view over DC and the surrounding buildings. Given that DC is generally a “short” city, most of the buildings around you are quite a bit smaller. You actually get a great view of the monument and the capital and some of the other well known buildings. One of the distractions is the bars on some of the windows which make it difficult to take photos of.
In some ways the view is better than the Washington Monument. Sure the monument is higher in height but the windows in the monument are really rather tiny. These do give you a more expansive view of the area.
So what do you think? Have you been to the Hotel or to the Old Post Office Tower? Do you think it’s the “best view in Washington DC”? Would love to hear your opinions!
Entrance to the Old Post Office Museum and Tower is located on 12th Street. This is not the same as the entrance to the hotel. There is no access between the two from the inside.
The Museum and Tower is open from 9am to 5pm with the last entrance at 430PM
The entrance is free and the site is managed by the National Park Service.