Old Post Office Clock Tower

The Old Post Office,
from looking West on Pennsylvania
Just a few days before Donald Trump bought the Old Post Office, one of my new GW friends mentioned that it was something I should check out. (We had been talking about all the things on our respective lists to do and see around DC.) I had no idea it even existed, and it appears to be pretty off the beaten path of the "normal" things to see by the National Mall. However, because the Washington Monument was damaged in the crazy earthquake last August and is closed indefinitely, I bet a lot more people are going to discover this as a great place to see the city from above. (Also, there is a lot of press going right now about the building in general because of Donald Trump.)

I actually wanted to go see it right after finding out about it, since I have a good chunk of time on Thursdays between teaching and going to class that I can use to explore, but I figured I should wait until Eric could come with me. :) Luckily, on Sunday we went into the city to have lunch with one of his friends, and took advantage of already being almost downtown to do some sightseeing. (It always feels like a serious hassle to go into DC, so we might as well see things while we're there!)

We took the metro from U Street (near where we had lunch) to National Archives. The Old Post Office is actually right next to Federal Triangle metro, but we didn't feel like switching lines to go one stop! That's a little silly. National Archives is only a couple of blocks away.


As we were trying to go inside the building, a whole bunch of other people were also trying to get in, and we eventually had to wait outside for several minutes while some (rather mean) security guards took the people already inside through metal detectors. It was a really inefficient process and the detectors are smushed right next to the doors you go have to go in, so if/when you go, be aware of that.

There aren't really any signs to tell you where to go. The Old Post Office Pavilion (as the whole structure is called) is actually sort of like a mall, with food and little shops, mostly souvenirs. We found a map and it told us to go down to the first floor, where the food seating is, and then we saw the sign for the Tower Tour elevator. Then we had to wait in line some more (this area is also really inefficiently set up -- you think you can just go up the elevator, but there's a park ranger there telling you to go to the end of the line that's around the corner). Finally, we could go up the stylish old-looking elevator. I love old-looking elevators because they are so pretty! This is the view while you're on your way up to the Clock Tower.

Looking down into the Pavilion

Looking up above at the ceiling
(these rooms are mostly offices)

In the elevator!
The ceiling is a mirror, and the outer area
 (to the right) is glass so you can look out 

When you get to the top floor of this elevator, which is the 9th floor, you go around the corner to another, smaller, elevator that takes you to the 12th, which is where you're actually aiming to go. On the 9th floor landing you see the area where the Washington Ringing Society ring the Congress Bells.

Once you reach the 12th floor top, the elevator opens and you find yourself looking out on the second-best view in Washington. This is apparently only one of four buildings taller than the Capitol building (the others being the Washington Monument, the Washington National Cathedral, and the Basilica of the National Shrine). I haven't been to the two churches to see their views, but this view is pretty stellar, especially with the Monument closed. The day we went was grey (which was a shame, because both Saturday and Monday were gorgeous), but we could still see pretty far.

Looking North; these are mostly office buildings

Looking West; that's the Museum of Natural History

Looking East we can see the Capitol in the distance

 Each wall has a picture with a description of what you can see along with the direction you're facing.

Looking South we can see the Potomac

The Washington Monument in the distance

The Lincoln Memorial

The White House

 Eric and I climbed the stairs to go below to see the bells. The Congress Bells aren't that old; they were a bicentennial gift from Great Britain (which I thought was pretty great -- the country we overthrew 200 years ago turns around and gives us a bunch of bells that are similar in pitch to the bells of the great Westminster Abbey).

We made our way back out of the Old Post Office after looking through some of the exhibit. There is a room/hallway dedicated to telling the story of the building, including all the times various people have wanted to tear it down. Can you imagine tearing down such a wonderful piece of architecture? Apparently after it was built, people didn't like this style for the federal buildings, and wanted to get rid of it. In my opinion, I wish every federal building was this pretty. Most of them are downright ugly.

Outside of the building, there's a statue of Ben Franklin hanging out. 

I would definitely recommend checking out this building, especially if you can do it before Trump turns it into a luxury hotel. Luckily, access to the tower will still be open to the public, but the inside Pavilion area is probably going to change a lot.

I know I will be bringing our guests here when they come to visit DC! Oh -- and it's free!
Old Post Office Clock Tower Old Post Office Clock Tower Reviewed by Maria on 11:31:00 AM Rating: 5

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