Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Old Post Office Tower Located?

On the corner of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

When was the Old Post Office built?

The Old Post Office was built between 1892 and 1899.

Is there still a Post Office here?

No, the Washington, D.C. post office was relocated in 1914. The Postal Department Headquarters remained near Union Station until 1934; it operated within the building now known as the National Postal Museum, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Where can I post a letter?

There is no Post Office here anymore, but there is one inside the building nextdoor at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

What is the building used for now?

The Old Post Office is currently the Headquarters for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. On the bottom level there is a food pavilion, with shops on the level just above.

Has the interior courtyard always been enclosed?

Yes, there always has been a roof over the interior courtyard. The original roof was glass, but was replaced by sheet metal panels in the mid-1930s. The 1977-1983 restoration brought the glass panels back, thus restoring natural light to the interior of the Old Post Office.

What is the purpose of the steel framework covering the food pavilion?

The steel framework was originally the support for a secondary glass roof. The levels now occupied by the food pavilion and gift shops were originally the sorting area of the original City Post Office. The glass roof separated the work area from the Postal Department offices on the upper levels.

Who was Nancy Hanks?

Nancy Hanks spearheaded the effort to save the Old Post Office from demolition in the 1970s. She was the Chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts under the Nixon and Ford Administrations. Her efforts to lobby Congress in support of the fight against demolition, won the building a reprieve and later a complete restoration, undertaken between 1977 and 1983.

Does it cost anything to visit the Tower?

No, admission to the Tower is free to the public.

What can I see from the Observation Deck?

The view from the Observation Deck covers most of Washington, D.C. The Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, and the White House all can be seen from the Tower. The Tower affords excellent views of several major Washington, D.C. sites, such as the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, and Freedom Plaza. A number of major landmarks are visible across the Potomac River in Virginia, such as Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, the U.S. Air Force Memorial, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria.

What are the Bells of Congress?

The Bells of Congress are the official Bells of the United States Congress. The Bells were cast at the Whitechapel Foundry in London, England and were commissioned by the Ditchley Foundation as a Bicentennial gift to the United States. The bells originally were intended for the Capitol, but were found to be incompatible with that revered building. A search for alternate sites led to the decision to place the Bells in the Old Post Office Tower. The Tower was ideally suited both structurally and symbolically, being nearly halfway between the Capitol and the White House.

When are the Bells rung and by whom?

The Bells are rung by the Washington Ringing Society, a volunteer group based out of the National Cathedral. The Bells are rung on Federal Holidays, Days of National Mourning, the Opening and Closing of Congress, and Thursday nights for practice.

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