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High above the nation's capital...
May 15, 2013 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Ever wondered what the view at the very top of the Washington Monument is like? Construction workers erecting scaffolding (for repairs needed after the 2011 earthquake) donned helmet cams on the day they reached the tip of the monument, so you need wonder no longer.
posted by EvaDestruction (42 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
*gets off chair and crouches closer to the ground*

nope

I was almost IN that thing during the earthquake. Had tickets for 3 hours later.

nope nope nope
posted by DU at 12:10 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that a bird perch-preventer on the capstone? If so, why? It's more than 500 feet up and it's not like more than one bird could perch there.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:11 PM on May 15, 2013


omg he was bracing his foot against the monument and shaking the entire scaffolding to wiggle a bolt into place i need some dry wipes for my hands
posted by DU at 12:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ah yes, the time honored structural test for something you're standing on - pull on it as hard as you can and see if it collapses beneath you.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I want to go there.

This is way easier to watch than that one from the 2000 foot antenna that was posted a while back.
posted by bondcliff at 12:12 PM on May 15, 2013


I was about to say, "No, Three Dog sent me there to fix his transmitter," but that wasn't the very top, I suppose. Then again, that Washington Monument had steel girders inside, and this one doesn't.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is that a bird perch-preventer on the capstone? If so, why? It's more than 500 feet up and it's not like more than one bird could perch there.

I think they're lightening rods.
posted by sbutler at 12:14 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this! I do have vertigo, but still cool. Especially to me because: my grandfather (with the notebook in foreground) in the same place.
posted by skyscraper at 12:15 PM on May 15, 2013 [23 favorites]


That's really really...vertiginous.
posted by scratch at 12:15 PM on May 15, 2013


All that video needs is some spiders.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:20 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone else ever get up someplace really high and close your eyes and lean forward as far as you can?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:22 PM on May 15, 2013


All those years in DC, and I never went to the top of the Monument. And now I don't have to!
posted by rtha at 12:23 PM on May 15, 2013


Holy shit that's a lot of scaffolding. Why can't we do this kind of work via fancy dirigible?
posted by elizardbits at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2013


Is that a bird perch-preventer on the capstone?

I believe that is the infernal crown of the Masonic idol that sits atop the monument, casting the baleful glare of its all-seeing eye down upon the capital. Also it probably picks up shortwave radio signals from the Illuminati.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Holy shit that's a lot of scaffolding. Why can't we do this kind of work via fancy dirigible?

Is that you, Walternate?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Back in middle school, I took a school-sponsored trip to DC (from the West Coast) and got to go up there. It was a nice view, for sure. Now I live just outside DC (for the past several years) and it's been closed the whole time...
posted by mystyk at 12:28 PM on May 15, 2013


EvaDestruction: "Ever wondered what the view at the very top of the Washington Monument is like?"

NO
posted by scrump at 12:28 PM on May 15, 2013


Why can't we do this kind of work via fancy dirigible?

Because the sharp point of the monument would pop it.

Duh.
posted by bondcliff at 12:29 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


omg he was bracing his foot against the monument and shaking the entire scaffolding to wiggle a bolt into place i need some dry wipes for my hands

Ironworkers are special people.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:32 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's more than 500 feet up and it's not like more than one bird could perch there.

Yes, but due to a little-known quirk in the constitution put in by Ben Franklin, that one bird would automatically become the supreme ruler of the land.
posted by Behemoth at 12:32 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


He was hoping for a turkey.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:33 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The ironic thing is that the little metal pyramid on top is aluminum, chosen because it was so expensive and rare when the monument was erected. Now the scaffolding those guys are using probably represents an amount equal to the worlds supply of pure aluminum back then.
posted by 445supermag at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not that the monument is short by any means, but the video overplays it with the fisheye lens.
posted by LionIndex at 12:51 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


this is great. a lot better than the recent video I saw of the spire being put on top of the new World Trade Center tower. I'm really glad the high heights workers have started filming these sorts of things, the videos are the modern equivalent of those photos of the skycraper guys eating their lunches way up on a beam.
posted by dogwalker at 12:55 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this! I do have vertigo, but still cool. Especially to me because: my grandfather (with the notebook in foreground) in the same place.
posted by skyscraper at 3:15 PM on May 15 [5 favorites +] [!]


Eponymazing!
posted by capricorn at 12:58 PM on May 15, 2013


I had no idea that body parts could migrate like that.
posted by HuronBob at 1:00 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


LionIndex: "Not that the monument is short by any means, but the video overplays it with the fisheye lens."

Yeah, the fisheye lens effects on these things put me off. I'd rather see a more realistic view.

Great link though, thanks, EvaDestruction.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:18 PM on May 15, 2013


Thanks for this! I do have vertigo, but still cool. Especially to me because: my grandfather (with the notebook in foreground) in the same place.
posted by skyscraper at 3:15 PM


The difference being that grandpa appears to have climbed up there without being safely latched onto something secure!
posted by COD at 1:23 PM on May 15, 2013


Wait, so how is that scaffold lightning safe? The very top was just regular old scaffold and not like a ferrous rod with a shielded grounding wire, DC does get flash storms and shit that they wouldn't necessarily be able to predict in time to get everyone off. Is there something I'm missing?
posted by Blasdelb at 1:50 PM on May 15, 2013


Is that a bird perch-preventer on the capstone?

I believe that is the infernal crown of the Masonic idol that sits atop the monument

As 445supermag pointed out, it's made from the very rare (at that time) metal aluminum/aluminium. And there is a Masonic connection -- you can find a duplicate of this capstone in a display case among the exhibits in the George Washington Masonic Memorial down in Alexandria.
posted by Rash at 2:07 PM on May 15, 2013


Oh I love this. One of my earliest photos was taken of me with my mother by the reflecting pool. I was 8 months old in a stroller and my mom was insanely young - just 20. That would have been March of 1973. (gah)
posted by PuppyCat at 2:15 PM on May 15, 2013


It is just as I expected: Vertiginous.
posted by Mister_A at 2:23 PM on May 15, 2013


the video overplays it with the fisheye lens

Isn't the fisheye a normal thing for a helmet cam? I would think you'd need a very wide field of view in such an application, if you want to understand the work being done. It's not as if the worker is carefully aiming the camera at interesting things. If you had a narrower lens, you'd just have a tunnel vision view wildly jumping around as the guy's head moved.
posted by ryanrs at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2013


I have lots of occasions to be very high up and doing things like shaking the structure to make a bolt. I'm convinced that people who have to do that sort of work cannot fall off things and die. 80 feet up and tired from working so much and having to put yourself in a wicked precarious spot to complete a task is enough of a karmic load. The universe will not choose that opportunity to make you regret it. It's crossing the street that will kill you. I've hopped across a studio at the top of a very tall a-frame ladder, never once did I think I'd get hurt.
posted by nevercalm at 2:50 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The universe will not choose that opportunity to make you regret it.

"Falls – 251 out of 721 total deaths in construction in CY 2011." — OSHA Statistics
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe part of it is just the fisheye lens, but I had always assumed that the aluminum apex was bigger than that.

Also, the process that made aluminum incredibly cheap was developed a mere two years after that apex was installed.
posted by ckape at 3:11 PM on May 15, 2013


If you are interested in the Aluminum Cap, this paper is fascinating:
The Point of a Monument: A History of the Aluminum Cap of the Washington Monument

posted by gyusan at 3:13 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


They should use bamboo scaffolding, like in China.
posted by eye of newt at 8:51 PM on May 15, 2013


Wait, so how is that scaffold lightning safe? The very top was just regular old scaffold and not like a ferrous rod with a shielded grounding wire, DC does get flash storms and shit that they wouldn't necessarily be able to predict in time to get everyone off. Is there something I'm missing?--Blasdelb

If a lighting demonstration in the Boston Museum of Science is to be believed, then, unless you are surrounded by a Faraday cage, you are not protected much if lightning hits a lightning rod right next to you. You'll be just as fried. You need to be some distance away.
posted by eye of newt at 8:56 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


ryanrs: "Isn't the fisheye a normal thing for a helmet cam? I would think you'd need a very wide field of view in such an application, if you want to understand the work being done. "

I hear you, I just think it makes these videos seem even more vertiginous than they really are (which is plenty).

Also, all this fisheye talk makes me think of Rush.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:29 PM on May 15, 2013


I wonder if you can see any classified rooftop details from up there?
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:41 AM on May 16, 2013


Did you notice how carefully the camera never pointed towards the Whitehouse?

The wide angle lens is important in these kinds of cameras. HUGE difference! You get used to it in fairly short order, if you look at it enough. I shoot with 8-15mm lenses all the time, and also have a GoPro.
posted by Goofyy at 1:58 PM on May 16, 2013


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