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List of tallest buildings in Washington, D.C. facts for kids

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WashMonument WhiteHouse
Aerial image of Northwest Washington, D.C.

This list of tallest buildings in Washington, D.C. ranks high-rises in the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. The tallest structure in the city, excluding radio towers, is the Washington Monument, which rises 555 feet (169 m) and was completed in 1884. The structure, however, is not generally considered a high-rise building as it does not have successive floors that can be occupied. The tallest habitable building in the city is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which rises 329 feet (100 m). The second-tallest building in Washington is the Old Post Office Building, which is 315 feet (96 m) high. The third-tallest building in the city is the Washington National Cathedral, which rises 301 feet (92 m) above grade. The cathedral is built on high ground known as Mount St. Alban, 400 feet (120 m) above sea level, which makes the central tower the "highest" point in the District. As of November 2011, there are 410 completed high-rises in the city.

History

Worlds tallest buildings, 1884
Diagram of the Principal High Buildings of the Old World, 1884. The Washington Monument (although not in the Old World), is the tallest structure represented.

Washington's history of high-rises began with the completion in 1894 of The Cairo, an apartment building, which is considered to be the city's first high-rise. The building rises 164 feet (50 m) and 14 floors. Washington went through an early high-rise construction boom from the late 1890s to the mid-1930s, during which time the Old Post Office Building and the Federal Triangle were built. The city then experienced a major building boom from the early 1940s to the late 1990s, during which the city saw the completion of 31 of its 48 tallest buildings, including One Franklin Square and 700 Eleventh Street. However, although the city is home to several high-rises, none are considered to be genuine "skyscrapers"; only two completed buildings surpass 200 feet (61 m).

The height of buildings in Washington is limited by the Height of Buildings Act. The original Act was passed by Congress in 1899 in response to the 1894 construction of the Cairo Hotel, which is much taller than the majority of buildings in the city. The original act restricted the heights of any type of building in the city to be no higher than 110 feet (34 m), 90 feet (27 m) for residential buildings. In 1910, the 61st United States Congress enacted a new law which raised the overall building height limit to 130 feet (40 m), but restricted building heights to the width of the adjacent street or avenue plus 20 feet (6.1 m); thus, a building facing a 90-foot (27 m)-wide street could be only 110 feet (34 m) tall. However, building heights are measured from the sidewalk or curb to the edge of the roof. Architectural embellishments, mechanical rooms, and common rooftop structures may be exempted from the overall height limit, provided they are set back from the roof line. The heights of buildings listed here may therefore exceed the general height limit as measured for the purpose of the city's zoning laws.

In modern times the skyline remains low and sprawling, keeping with Thomas Jefferson's wishes to make Washington an "American Paris" with "low and convenient" buildings on "light and airy" streets. Washington's height restriction, however, has been assailed as one of the primary reasons why the city has inflated rents, limited affordable housing, and traffic problems as a result of urban sprawl. Much like La Defense near Paris, the region's tallest buildings near the central business district are located in Rosslyn, Virginia, directly across the Potomac River from Georgetown.

One of the most recently completed buildings in Washington, D.C. is Capitol View, which is 171 feet (52 m) high. As of July 2008, there is one high-rise under construction in the city that is expected to rise at least 150 feet (46 m), with one more proposed and one approved for construction. Onyx on First was the first high-rise built in Washington; upon completion, it was the 14th-tallest building in the city. Two other large developments taking place are Square 54 Residential I, which is proposed for construction, and the PNC Bank Building, which is approved. The Square Residential I building at George Washington University is expected to rise to a height of 160 feet (49 m) and 14 stories, while the PNC Bank Building is expected to rise to a height of 151 feet (46 m) and 12 stories. As of July 2008, there is a total of four high-rise buildings under construction, approved for construction and proposed for construction in Washington.

Tallest buildings

Washington Monument Dusk Jan 2006
The Washington Monument is the second-tallest structure in the District of Columbia.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the tallest building in Washington.
Old Post Office Building Washington DC
The Old Post Office Building, the second-tallest building in Washington
Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
The Washington National Cathedral, the third-tallest building in Washington
US Capitol Building at night Jan 2006
The United States Capitol, the fourth-tallest building in Washington
0710AA22-Georgetown
Georgetown University's Healy Hall, the sixth-tallest building in Washington
USNationalArchives
The National Archives Building, the sixteenth-tallest building in Washington
Thomas Jefferson Building Aerial by Carol M. Highsmith
The Thomas Jefferson Building, the ninth-tallest building in Washington

This lists ranks Washington high-rises that stand at least 150 feet (46 m), based on standard height measurement. This includes spires and architectural details but does not include antenna masts. The "Year" column indicates the year in which a building was completed. Freestanding towers, while not habitable buildings, are included for comparison purposes; however, they are not ranked. The majority of the tallest structures in the city are tall broadcasting towers located in the northern and western sections of the district.

Rank Name Height
ft (m)
Floors Year Notes
01.0 Hughes Memorial Tower 761 (232) 0 1989 Tallest free-standing structure in the District of Columbia and second tallest in the wider Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area after the River Rd. tower in Bethesda. The radio tower's height allows for broadcasts to reach as far west as West Virginia.
01.0 WTTG TV Tower 705 (215) 0 1963
01.0 WJLA TV Tower 692 (211) 0 1972
01.0 WRC TV Tower 662 (202) 0 1989
01.0 Washington Monument 555 (169) 3 1884 Tallest non-communication structure in the District. Was the tallest structure in the world from 1884 until 1889, and the tallest monument in the U.S. until the completion of the San Jacinto Monument in 1939.
01.0 Washington Police Department Tower 506 (154) 0
01.0 WETA-FM 495 (151) 0 2014
01.0 WAVA-FM Tower 457 (139) 0 1992
01.0 Old WRC TV Tower 443 (135) 0 1957
01.0 American University Tower 428 (129) 0 2011
01.0 Old WJLA TV Tower 375 (114) 0 1947
02.01 Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception 329 (100) 1 1959 Tallest building in Washington, D.C. since 1959. Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1950s.
03.02 Trump International Hotel (Old Post Office Pavilion) 315 (96) 12 1899 Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1890s.
04.03 Washington National Cathedral 301 (92) 7 1910–1990 Tallest building completed in the city in the 1990s.
05.04 United States Capitol 289 (88) 3 1863 Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1860s.
06.05 One Franklin Square 210 (64) 12 1989 Tallest commercial building in Washington, D.C. Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1980s. Home to the headquarters of The Washington Post since 2015.
07.06 700 Eleventh Street 200 (61) 13 1992
Healy Hall 200 (61) 1879
08.08 Onyx on First 197 (60) 14 2008 Tallest residential building in Washington, D.C. Tallest building completed in the city in the 2000s.
9 Thomas Jefferson Building 195 (59) 7 1897 Originally named the Library of Congress building
10 Renaissance Washington DC Hotel 187 (57) 15 1986
1090 Vermont Avenue 187 (57) 12 1979 Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1970s.
11.012 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue 180 (55) 14 1968 Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1960s.
12.013 The Tower Building 177 (54) 14 1929 Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1920s.
Avalon at Foxhall 177 (54) 14 1982 Tallest residential building in the city from 1982 until 2008.
14.015 1900 K Street 171 (52) 13 1996
Capitol View 171 (52) 13 2007
17 National Archives Building 167 (51) 8 1935 Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1930s.
1150 K Street 167 (51) 14 2005
17.019 The Pennsylvania North 164 (50) 14 1990
The Cairo 164 (50) 14 1894
21 Capitol Place III 164 (50) 12 1985
1101 New York Avenue 164 (50) 12 2007
21.023 1625 Eye Street 161 (49) 12 2003
World Bank Headquarters 161 (49) 13 1997
23.025 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue 161 (49) 14 1987
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue 161 (49) 13 1981
600 Thirteenth Street 161 (49) 12 1997
26.028 The Watergate Hotel and Office Building 157 (48) 14 1967
Republic Building 157 (48) 13 1991
Army and Navy Club Building 157 (48) 12 1987
1620 L Street 157 (48) 12 1989
1333 H Street 157 (48) 12 1982
1111 19th Street 157 (48) 12 1979
1010 Mass 157 (48) 15 2007
34.035 1099 14th Street (Franklin Court) 155.6 (47.4) 11 1992 Tallest tower in the city when built in 1992.
34.036 The Investment Building 154 (47) 13 2001
Capital Hilton 154 (47) 13 1943 Tallest building constructed in the city in the 1940s.
1875 K Street 154 (47) 12 2001
1430 K Street 154 (47) 12 2006
1310 G Street 154 (47) 12 1992
Westin Washington, D.C. City Center 154 (47) 14 1982
Executive Tower 154 (47) 12 2001
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue 154 (47) 13 1962
43.044 Washington Gas Building 151 (46) 15 1941
The Watergate South 151 (46) 14 1970
World Bank Headquarters I 151 (46) 12 2001
World Bank Headquarters H 151 (46) 12 1983
William T. Golden Center for Science and Engineering 151 (46) 12 1996
Connecticut Connection 151 (46) 12 1978
455 Massachusetts Avenue 151 (46) 12 2007

Tallest demolished

This lists buildings in Washington that have been demolished and at one time stood at least 150 feet (46 m) in height.

Name Height
ft (m)
Floors Year
completed
Year
demolished
Notes
Munsey Trust Building 171 (52) 13 1905 1982
1000 Connecticut Avenue 156 (48) 13 1956 2008 Was replaced with another building carrying the same address.

Timeline of tallest buildings

This lists buildings that once held the title of tallest building in Washington, D.C. This list excludes the 555-foot (169 m) Washington Monument, which has stood as the tallest non-building structure in the city since 1884.

Name Street address Years as tallest Height
ft (m)
Floors Reference
United States Capitol Pennsylvania Avenue, Capitol Hill 1863–1899 289 (88) 3
Old Post Office 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 1899–1959 315 (96) 18
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception 400 Michigan Avenue NE 1959–present 329 (100) 1

A. Not a habitable building and is therefore not ranked, but it is included in this list for comparative purposes.

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