Washington Monument Lightning Rod in Washington, D.C.

The 550-foot Washington Monument was the tallest freestanding structure in the world when it was completed in 1884. Electrical knowledge was still primitive at the time, but the designers knew that some kind of lightning protection system was required when building at that height.

Their solution was a solid aluminum pyramidion at the very tip top of the monument. It connected to four wrought iron columns inside the hollow monument that served double duty as supports for the elevator. From...

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