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Architecture

9 of the Tallest Monuments in the U.S.

By Bradley O'Neill
Read time: 7 minutes

Wherever you go in the United States, you’ll find a smorgasbord of architectural landmarks to explore and appreciate. Among these are monuments, many of which have been erected to commemorate important moments in the nation’s history, cultural heritage, or individual achievements. Often, one of the standout features of these structures is their size, which adds to their allure as tourist attractions. Curious about where to find these towering monuments? Read on to discover nine of the tallest monuments you can visit in the United States.

9. Liberty Memorial Tower – Kansas City, Missouri

Grassy lawn in front of Liberty Memorial Tower with Kansas City skyline in background
Credit: TriggerPhoto/ iStock via Getty Images

Designed in the 1920s and later restored to its original glory, Liberty Memorial Tower was built to honor American soldiers who served in World War I. This 217-foot monument — one of the main attractions of Kansas City’s Penn Valley Park — displays an Egyptian Revival architectural style and is guarded by two Assyrian sphinxes. Additionally, it features four 40-foot-tall “Guardian Spirits,” which represent honor, courage, patriotism, and sacrifice. 

The tower forms part of the National WWI Museum and Memorial, which details the events of the Great War. Visit the Exhibit Hall to see a gallery with the flags of the 22 Allied nations who fought in World War I, while a highlight of the Memorial Hall is a portion of the monumental French painting Panthéon de la Guerre. Visitors can also ride an elevator and then climb 45 steps for a panoramic view of the Kansas City skyline.

8. Bunker Hill Monument – Charlestown, Massachusetts

Bunker Hill Monument framed by trees in Charlestown, Massachusetts
Credit: CHUYN/ iStock via Getty Images 

In June 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill took place as one of the first major battles between the United States and England in the Revolutionary War. Dedicated in 1843, Bunker Hill Monument is a 221-foot-tall granite obelisk that commemorates the battle. It stands in a leafy square and is guarded by a statue of war hero Colonel William Prescott. A 294-step staircase leads to an observation deck and offers visitors the chance to gaze over the Charles River toward downtown Boston. 

Bunker Hill is part of the Freedom Trail, a 17-stop walking trail that showcases the early days of the United States. Check for ranger-led talks and battle reenactments at the nearby Bunker Hill Lodge. On the south side of the square, Bunker Hill Museum retraces the events of the American Revolution and the founding of Charlestown in 1628. 

7. Pilgrim Monument – Provincetown, Massachusetts

Pilgrim Monument standing above trees in Provincetown, Massachusetts
Credit: haveseen/ iStock via Getty Images 

Towering 252 feet above Provincetown Harbor, the Pilgrim Monument is the tallest all-granite structure in the country. Officially called the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, it’s dedicated to the arrival of the first Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620. The tower opened in 1910 after three years of construction, with the foundation stone laid by President Theodore Roosevelt. A series of 116 steps and 60 ramps connect visitors to the top. On the way up, you’ll see interior stones that were donated by various cities and towns throughout the country. 

Adjacent to the tower is the Provincetown Museum, with exhibits that shed light on the symbolic Mayflower landings, in addition to highlighting the town’s maritime and theater heritage. Visitors can explore a replica of a sea captain’s parlor from the 19th century and artifacts from the Arctic expeditions of Provincetown local Donald B. MacMillan.

6. Statue of Liberty National Monument – New York City, New York

Image of the Statue of Liberty in New York, seen across the harbor
Credit: tupungato/ iStock via Getty Images 

An international icon, the Statue of Liberty has been welcoming visitors and immigrants to the United States since 1886. A gift from France, the neoclassical statue measures 305 feet tall from base of the pedestal to the tip of its torch, and depicts Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. She holds the torch aloft in her right hand, representing enlightenment, and a tablet in her left inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence. The seven spikes on the crown symbolize the seven continents and seas, while the broken shackles on her feet signify the end of oppression and tyranny.

Ferries depart for the statue from the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan and Liberty Square Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Once here, it’s possible to enjoy ticketed tours of the statue’s crown and pedestal while enjoying magnificent views of New York City. The Statue of Liberty Museum has three immersive galleries that retell the history and significance of Lady Liberty. Many visitors combine a trip to the statue with a tour of the adjacent Ellis Island, home to the National Museum of Immigration.

5. Bennington Battle Monument – Bennington, Vermont

Bennington Battle Monument in Vermont at end of road framed with fall foliage
Credit: lucasImages/ Shutterstock 

Reaching a lofty height of 306 feet, Bennington Battle Monument is the tallest human-made building in Vermont. This blue-gray limestone structure has a 37-square-foot base and stands on the site of the 1777 Battle of Bennington. The summit of the monument can be reached via an elevator, with views of three states — Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York — waiting at the lookout. 

Around the grounds of the monument are statues of notable Revolutionary War soldiers, including Seth Warner and John Stark. On August 16 each year, Vermont marks the Battle of Bennington with a local holiday. Among the events taking place are a performance of the Moodus Fife and Drum, educational talks, and reenactments with cannons and rifle musters.  

4. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial – Put-in-Bay, Ohio

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay, Ohio
Credit: Prasanna Swaminathan/ Shutterstock 

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial towers above the village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. Resembling a Doric column, the memorial soars 352 feet tall and consists of 3,084 granite blocks. The column’s diameter ranges from 45 feet at the base to 35 feet at the top, and the wall thickness changes from just over nine feet to four feet as it rises. 

Built between 1912 and 1915, the memorial commemorates the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie and represents eternal peace between the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. The visitor center holds exhibits about the battle and a copy of Commodore Olivar Hardy Perry’s longboat. Step inside the rotunda to see the names of 123 soldiers inscribed on the limestone walls. Both the memorial grounds and observation deck are ideal for spotting bald eagles, osprey, and other bird species that inhabit the area. 

3. Washington Monument – Washington,  D.C.

Washington Monument surrounded by cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C.
Credit: drnadig/ E+ via Getty Images 

At the heart of the National Mall is the Washington Monument, a 555-foot-tall obelisk dedicated to the country’s first president, George Washington. Constructed in two phases between 1848 and 1884, it was the tallest structure in the world when completed, a title it held until the Eiffel Tower opened five years later. The memorial, inspired by a traditional Egyptian obelisk, is made from marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. It embodies the gratitude and respect that the country has for one of its Founding Fathers. 

A 70-second elevator ride takes visitors to the observation deck situated 500 feet above ground. Windows on all four sides afford views of other notable D.C. landmarks, such as the Lincoln Memorial and United States Capitol. Meanwhile, a museum one floor below the deck features exhibits about the memorial’s history. Outside, grassy lawns, pathways, and reflecting pools present a tranquil environment from where to contemplate the nation’s history.

2. San Jacinto Monument – La Porte, Texas

View across field of San Jacinto Monument in Texas
Credit: travelview/ Shutterstock 

The San Jacinto Monument stands on a strip of coastal prairie about 25 miles east of downtown Houston. At 567 feet tall, this octagonal-shaped, Art Deco-style structure is the tallest column monument in the world. It’s located within the San Jacinto Battleground Historic Site and pays homage to the 1836 Battle of Jacinto. Crowning the monument is a huge Lone Star, the state symbol of Texas. It also features an elevator and an observation platform with views over Houston. 

The base of the monument functions as the San Jacinto Museum. Via immersive exhibits and artifacts, visitors can learn about the events that saw Sam Houston lead his troops to victory in a decisive battle in the Texas Revolution. Outside, the base is inscribed with a shortened story of Texas’s fight for independence. There are also eight friezes that portray other pivotal moments in state history. 

1. Gateway Arch – St. Louis, Missouri

Person standing in park in front of Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
Credit: Photo by Mike Kline (notkalvin)/ Moment via Getty Images 

Designed to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s vision for westward expansion, the Gateway Arch is the tallest monument in the country. This sweeping, stainless steel arch stands 630 feet above the St. Louis riverfront and is the standout feature of Gateway Arch National Park. Every day, around 6,000 people ride a tram to the top of the arch and enjoy uninterrupted views over the city and the Mississippi River. On clear days, it’s possible to see for up to 30 miles. 

Other notable attractions sit scattered around the park’s grassy lawns. In the shadow of the arch, an interactive museum delves into the stories of explorers and pioneers such as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Nearby, the Old Courthouse details key moments in the country’s civil rights history. Finally, a visit to Gateway Arch isn’t complete without stepping aboard a 19th-century paddlewheel boat for a scenic river cruise. 

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