JOM
, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 20-25

The point of a monument: A history of the aluminum cap of the Washington Monument

Abstract

In the history of materials and human events it sometimes happens, however rarely, that a particular time and a consequent circumstance merge to create the opportunity for a happenstance event; subsequently, the event is accorded monumental status within its sphere of application. Such was the case of the small but very expensive aluminum pyramid that was set atop the Washington Monument on its completion in 1884 to serve the functional purpose of a lightning rod. In retrospect, this can be considered a watershed event in the subsequent emergence of the modern massive aluminum industry.