The Old Post Office is one of the many beautifully designed buildings in Washington, D.C. The structure's tower is run by the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Dept. of the Interior and open to visitors.
A stunning piece of architecture, the building is located in Federal Triangle, next to the Internal Revenue Service.
No longer the hub for mail delivery, visitors who enter the building nowadays often drop in to visit the food court, shop in souvenir shops or listen to live entertainment. Another reason is to take the elevator up to the top of the building.
I've been in the building numerous times, but never took the elevator ride up the tower to the top. No reason really why, other than there were usually long waits, or I'd just stopped in for a bite to eat and didn't have time.
This photo of the full frontal view of the Old Post Office was taken circa 2009 as I walked by the building.
Until this past Sat., I really had no idea what was up there. Wow, was I missing out…
The wait appeared to be a little long, but over the weekend, I was in no rush, so jumped in line. I was pleasantly surprised the line moved relatively quickly. While waiting, I learned a bit about the history of the building by glancing at the informative plaques on the walls and grabbing an NPS flyer before taking the ride up.
Side view of the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C.
I was surprised to learn the Old Post Office was almost demolished at one time, according to the NPS flyer. It was the onset of the Great Depression that saved this remarkable building. In the early 1930s, the Post Office had moved to a new building, and from 1935 to 1978 the building was used for a variety of purposes for different government agencies. By the mid-1970s it was in disrepair and the idea of demolition had already been revisited and approved by Congress in 1970.
Nancy Hanks, then chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, was against the razing of the building and testified to Congress, "Old buildings are like old friends", and provided additional testimony that inspired others to join the quest to save the building. The Old Post Office Tower was eventually placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, being rededicated by then-President Ronald Reagan, The Nancy Hanks Center.
Thanks to Hanks and those supporting the saving of the building, visitors today can experience an incredible view of the District, have a budget-friendly lunch and just simply enjoy the environment.
In addition to the views, the building houses The Bells of Congress (scroll to bottom of this page for more information on the Bells).