Old Post Office Tower

We visited the Old Post Office Tower this morning. It is operated by the National Park Service and provides access to a observation room above the tower’s four clock faces. There is also some historical information about the Old Post Office building on the path from the entrance to the elevators.

As it is in a newly redeveloped structure, one would expect that this historic section of the building would have been updated as well to provide a great visitor experience. However, it is a sad little place. Some of the window openings are protected by clear plastic, possibly plexiglass, sheets that are in terrible condition. Other windows are covered by strands of thick metal wire that run top to bottom. And there is a NPS staff member whose only job seems to be to yell at visitors when they touch the metal wire as touching it is prohibited. Definitely one of the worst NPS visitor experiences anywhere.

A little bit of investment is needed to at least replace the terrible windows with some quality glass. That would solve multiple problems at once. This place has so much potential!

The Old Post Office Tower is on the front of the Old Post Office, facing Pennsylvania Avenue. The Old Post Office was redeveloped as the Trump International Hotel. After Trump lost his attempt at reelection, the rights were sold and the property was turned into a Waldorf Astoria hotel.

There are two small elevators that lead up to the tower. The first one is a glass sided elevator that runs on the side of the building’s vast atrium. Jose Andres’ The Bazaar restaurant is visible at ground level. Originally, this ground floor held whatever machinery and equipment that would have been used in 1899 to sort mail. The building was quickly rendered obsolete by technological improvements.

Up above, a metal framed glass canopy covers the atrium. The second elevator is just a standard interior elevator that runs up the clock tower.

Upon reaching the top, we entered a small room. Each side has three arched windows. On two sides, the windows are covered by the terrible sheets of clear plastic. On the remaining two sides, the windows are covered by vertical wires.

I was able to photograph through the wire without touching the wire with my hands. That would have elicited a rude yell to stop touching the wires! Looking to the west, we could see the tall buildings of the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington. The Lincoln Memorial is also visible at the very left edge of the frame. In the foreground, we could see some of the federal buildings that form the Federal Triangle. The Federal Triangle Metro station is down below at street level. At the very right, part of the White House is visible.

Looking to the south, we could see the National Mall. The Smithsonian Castle is visible on the left. The dome at the very left is the Museum of Natural History. DCA, the Regan National Airport, is visible at right just below the horizon. The foreground structure is the metal and glass roof above the atrium.

We could see the National Monument from the south facing window if we looked towards the right. The terrible plastic window caused some issues but I was able to edit the image to try and make it look better. From this angle, the National Monument almost seems to come out of the Museum of African American History and Culture. The Tidal Basin and its cherry trees are visible just beyond the National Monument. The dome of the Jefferson Monument can also be seen, around the center of the frame.

There are some faint vertical lines which are visible on the right side of the frame. These seem to be reflections of the metal wire that form some of the windows.

Looking to the east, we can see Pennsylvania Avenue running diagonally to the Capitol.

Finally, the view to the north. Pennsylvania Avenue is not visible but is directly below. There isn’t much of interest here. But those rooftop patios sure look nice!

The clock tower can also be seen from the interior hallways of the building.

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