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Baltimore’s Washington Monument from “Sleepless in Seattle”

Feb 27th, 2017 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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Most people know about the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., but what few realize is that there is another memorial honoring America’s first president located nearby and that it actually predates the District one.  It is a filming location, to boot – from Sleepless in Seattle, one of my favorite movies, no less!  So I just had to do some stalking of it while I was back east last September.

The original Washington Monument, which was constructed from 1815 to 1829 and was the first public memorial to pay homage to George Washington, stands about forty miles outside of the nation’s capital in Baltimore, Maryland’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.  The structure was designed by architect Robert Mills, who also designed its D.C. counterpart, though that one did not begin to take shape until 1848 and was not completed for another 37 years after that.

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Manufactured out of marble from three local quarries, the monument stands at 178 feet, 8 inches tall.

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The focal point of the memorial is a towering Doric column positioned at the center of a rectangular base.  Inside of the base is an exhibit about the monument and its surrounding neighborhood.  Unfortunately, I had a bit of a stalking fail with this particular location because until I started doing researching for this post, I was unaware that visitors could not only venture inside the structure, but to the very top of it!  The tower’s apex apparently provides some fabulous views of the city, so I am really disappointed the Grim Cheaper and I did not head inside.

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Affixed to the exterior of the monument’s base are eight bronze captions denoting important events in Washington’s life.

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And holding court at the top is a sculpture designed by Italian artist Enrico Causici that represents the moment when Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on December 23rd, 1783.  Why did Causici choose to immortalize that particular occasion?  As History.com explains, “Washington’s willingness to return to civilian life was an essential element in the transformation of the War for Independence into a true revolution.  During the war, Congress had granted Washington powers equivalent to those of a dictator and he could have easily taken solitary control of the new nation.  Indeed, some political factions wanted Washington to become the new nation’s king.  His modesty in declining the offer and resigning his military post at the end of the war fortified the republican foundations of the new nation.”

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The detailing of the statue cannot be seen from ground level, which is quite possibly a good thing.  The Baltimore Business Journal’s Kevin Litten got a close-up view of the piece in 2014, while the monument was undergoing a $5.5-million, 19-month restoration, and as he humorously reported, Causici’s rendering of the nation’s first president depicts him with “a wide, googly-eyed stare” that “looks a lot more like the late actor Jack Elam than the father of our country.”  Who is Jack Elam, you ask?  Litten explains, “Elam was known both for his frequent depiction of evil characters in western films, and for having what the New York Times called a ‘leer, bulging eye’ that ‘conveyed villainy as surely as [Jimmy] Durante’s nose suggested humor.’”  I mean, try to look at this photo and not laugh.  I’m literally in hysterics as I write this.

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In 1917, it was decided that a statue of Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat who fought alongside Washington during the Revolutionary War, would be added to the site.  Sculptor Andrew O’Connor was commissioned to create the instillation and architect Thomas Hastings was enlisted to re-design the area surrounding the Washington Monument to better suit the new piece.  The statue was eventually dedicated in 1924.

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Surrounding the monument are four gorgeously manicured park-like squares.

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Lined with trees, the squares feature fountains, shaded paths, and benches and chairs where visitors can enjoy quiet respite from the bustle of Baltimore.

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It truly is a gorgeous site and fitting homage to the father of this great nation.

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Towards the beginning of Sleepless in Seattle, Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) and her BFF Becky (Rosie O’Donnell) pass by the Washington Monument on their way to have lunch at the Women’s Exchange, which I blogged about last week.

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In the scene, the two ladies are shown walking from the east side of the monument to the south side, past the Marquis de Lafayette statue.

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Baltimore’s Washington Monument has popped up in a few other productions over the years.

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In the 1979 thriller . . . And Justice for All, Arthur Kirkland (Al Pacino) takes a spontaneous jog around the monument and Marquis de Lafayette statue.

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Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) and Rachel F. Banks (Lisa Bonet) have a clandestine meet-up at the Washington Monument in 1998’s Enemy of the State.

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That same year, the memorial was featured briefly in the opening scene of the John Waters comedy Pecker as the spot where Pecker (Edward Furlong) caught a bus.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Washington Monument, from Sleepless in Seattle, is located at 699 Washington Place in Baltimore.  Several other filming locations can be found in the same vicinity, including the Women’s Exchange, also from Sleepless in Seattle, at 333 North Charles Street; the George Peabody Library, again from Sleepless, at 17 East Mount Vernon Place; Terry Lambert’s (Steve Guttenberg) apartment from The Bedroom Window at 12 East Mount Vernon Place; and The Helmund from He’s Just Not That Into You at 806 North Charles Street.

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