A ranger in the Old Post Office Tower told me that the Washington Monument I was staring at would be closed to the public until 2019 so that the elevator can be redone. The grids over the window made it impossible to take a decent photo of it. The observation tower’s excellent viewing area affording perhaps DC’s best sight of the Smithsonian, the White House, the Capitol, etc. is equal to a 12-story-building ‘s height. This tower is attached to the new Trump Hotel but is not part of it.
I was in a bad mood. Ruth had gone into the Trump lobby to look around while I took photos of the hotel’s exterior. I walked completely around this huge property, and as I approached the entrance 2 men told me to put my camera away. They told me that inside I could only take pictures with my cell phone. The lobby was elegant and understated. As I walked around admiring the decor, another man approached me and I had the distinct impression that he wanted me to leave. He began by giving me directions to the Old Post Office Tower indicating that it, unlike the hotel with its $500+ per night rooms, was for tourists like me. He denied that I was being asked to leave but I took his attitude personally.
Ruth and I headed for the tower looming over the Postal Building that has been converted into a Trump hotel. All of its 263 rooms were spoken for on the day we were there. I know because Ruth inquired about availability. The building was erected between 1892 and 1899 to become 3 facilities: the main Washington, DC post office, Postal Department headquarters, and a Dead Letter Museum displaying what could not be delivered. By 1934 Washington’s 1st steel-frame building was a candidate for razing because it already seemed old-fashioned and out-of-place. Instead, it became government offices and increasingly distressed like an old downtown train station. The Government saved it again, and it was put on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2013 the GSA gave Trump Hotels permission to renovate the building. They spent $200 million turning it into a well-placed and deluxe Pennsylvania Avenue hotel property.
I was wrong to get upset. It was October 11 when we were there and I learned from NBC4 that on this month’s 1st weekend someone had spray painted “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice No Peace” on the entrance where I had been taking pictures. The police, to my knowledge, are still looking for the man in the yellow shirt who did this. No wonder security was so jumpy!
The Old Post Office Tower is being run by the National Park Service. It has been opened to the public for about a year. After walking down a long corridor with walls displaying historic photos and maps featuring Washington, DC, visitors are taken by elevator to The Tower for that great 360° view of Washington. At one point we saw the President’s helicopter taking off from the White House. Elevator riders get a fine view of the hotel’s lobby where everyone bustling about looks like he and she runs either a corporation or a country.