Photograph by Joseph H. Bailey

Washington Monument (The Mall; phone: +1 202 619 7222)

Construction began in 1848, but lagged due to the lack of funds and because of the Civil War. In 1876, after a 20-year work stoppage, Congress designated U.S. $200,000 to finish the monument. Finally, in 1884, the obelisk was capped with an 8-inch high (20.3 centimeters) pyramid made from aluminum (which was a precious metal at the time). When the structure was first finished, the steam-powered elevator was deemed too dangerous for women, so they had to climb the 898 steps to the top while their male counterparts made the trip in relative luxury.