Discover the 8 Tallest Buildings in Washington D.C.

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: December 9, 2023
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When people think of Washington D.C., they think of the nation’s capital. The White House is located here and the United States Capitol. The most powerful people in the country work and reside in Washington D.C. No one thinks about how Washington D.C. is filled with skyscrapers and that’s because it’s not. The highest building in the federal district is only 329 feet tall. Washington D.C. is not New York City, which is a gigantic concrete jungle. However, Washington D.C. has its share of tall buildings.

Let’s take a look at the eight tallest buildings in Washington D.C. We will explore when it was built, how tall the building is, and other fun facts about the buildings.

1. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has been the tallest building in Washington D.C. since 1959.

©Olga Kaya/iStock via Getty Images

Located adjacent to Catholic University, the Basilica is a national shrine and a Roman Catholic church building. The shrine is North America’s largest Catholic church building and one of the largest in the entire world. It is the tallest building in the nation’s capital. The building started construction in 1920 and was semi-completed in 1959, which is when it was dedicated. However, The architecture that adorns the basilica was not finished until 2017.

2. Old Post Office Pavilion

Old Post Office Pavilion, Historic 1899 building, Washington, DC, USA

The Old Post Office Pavilion was the tallest building in the nation’s capital from 1899 until 1959.

©Evgenia Parajanian/iStock via Getty Images

Built from 1892 to 1899, the building was constructed in the Romanesque Revival architecture and is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, close to the White House. Although it is the second-tallest building in the capital, the bell tower it has is the third-tallest structure (excluding radio towers). The Old Post Office housed the city’s post office until 1914. It was then a federal office building and almost destroyed several times. The property was leased to a company owned by Donald Trump and served as the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C. from 2016 until it closed in 2022. It reopened as the Waldorf Astoria Washington D.C. later that year.

3. Washington National Cathedral

National Cathedral in Full View

The Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopalian cathedral.

©Brian McEntire/iStock via Getty Images

Officially called the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, the cathedral belongs to the Episcopal Church. Built in a Neo-Gothic style of architecture, the cathedral was constructed from 1907 to 1990. Theodore Roosevelt was present when the first foundation stone was put to begin construction. George H.W. Bush was president when the cathedral was finished.

4. United States Capitol

Capitol USA Sunset

The United States Capitol is the home of the country’s legislative branch.

©trekandshoot/iStock via Getty Images

Construction started on the United States Capitol Building in 1800, but during the War of 1812, some sections were partially destroyed. The sections were restored in a few years. By the 1850s, the building proved to be too small to house the entire US Congress, so the building was enlarged. Two wings were extended — one for each house in the bicameral legislature. In 1866, the dome that sits atop the center of the Capitol Building was completed.

5. One Franklin Square

One Franklin Square

One Franklin Square is the tallest commercial building in Washington D.C.

©Ron Cogswell Attribution (CC BY 2.0) – License

The building is a high-rise commercial building and it was used as IBM’s headquarters in the city when it opened in 1991. Construction started in 1989 and the building is 210 feet, making it the fifth-tallest building in Washington D.C. In 2015, the American newspaper organization, the Washington Post, moved its headquarters into the building. One Franklin Square is located on K Street.

6. 700 Eleventh Street

700_Eleventh_Street_Washington_DC_2014_09_08_03

The building is 200 feet tall and finished construction in 1992.

©Quercus montana, CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

As the second-largest commercial building in the nation’s capital, many tenants make the building home. With 13 floors, it is the sixth-tallest building in Washington D.C. Furthermore, the building finished construction in 1992. It was announced in the fall of 2023 that the building was to be redeveloped to create a mixed-used building — both work and housing inside.

7. Healy Hall

Healy Hall

Healy Hall is a National Historic Landmark.

©aimintang/iStock via Getty Images

Georgetown University’s main campus building is Healy Hall. Construction started in 1877 and ended in 1879 and the designers of the building were the same ones that designed the Thomas Jefferson Building. It was built in the Gothic Revival and Romanesque styles of architecture. Healy Hall was named after the President of Georgetown University at the time, Patrick Healy. Today, Healy Hall houses the university’s administration, Riggs Library, as well as some classrooms.

8. Onyx on First

Washington DC Skyline

Onyx on First is Washington D.C.’s tallest residential building.

©SeanPavonePhoto/iStock via Getty Images

One of the newest buildings in Washington D.C., Onyx on First is a residential building that started construction in October 2006 and ended in August 2008. The building has 14 stories and 4 stories of parking below the building. Onyx on First has a total of 266 apartment units.

Conclusion

And there you have it, these are the eight tallest buildings in Washington D.C. Although Washington D.C. is a government town, these buildings do not represent solely the government. There are two religious buildings on this list. Washington D.C. will forever be known as a majestic city with beautiful buildings that house some of the most influential and powerful people in the world. Moreover, the buildings represent America’s status in the world, and for good reason. After all, Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States of America.

8 Tallest Buildings in Washington D.C.

BuildingHeightYears Built
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception329 feet1920-2017
Old Post Office Pavilion315 feet1899
Washington National Cathedral301 feet1910-1990
United States Capitol289 feet1800-1962
One Franklin Square210 feet1989
700 Eleventh Street200 feet1992
Healy Hall200 feet1877-1879
Onyx on First197 feet2008

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto


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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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