1899–The eve of a new era in the nation’s capital.
The original Old Post Office embodied the modern spirit that was sweeping the country.
Today, its vitality and innovative architecture continue to thrive. Washington’s first skyscraper, its steel and granite frame stands an impressive twelve stories tall. Built to house both the U.S. Post Office and the D.C. Post Office, it was the largest and tallest government building in the city.
The Old Post Office was the first government building to have its own electric power plant, with engines to drive over 3,900 lights. With the new century came new ideas. Only 15 years after its completion, The Old Post Office was considered dated and plans for its demolition were undertaken.
Fortunately, the Depression era delayed these plans. By the time they were reconsidered in the 1960s, a new appreciation for Washington’s classic architectural monuments had taken hold. The D.C. Preservation League, with the help of Nancy Hanks, head of the National Endowment for the Arts, spearheaded the preservation movement.