This post is a guide to touring the Old Post Office Pavilion at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Old Post Office has long been a standout in the DC skyline and you can see its clock tower rising 315′ (96 m), well above most of the surrounding buildings. Though DC residents might call it the Old Post Office out of habit, it now houses the Trump International Hotel. Even though it has been renovated into a luxury hotel, the Old Post Office Pavilion Clock Tower remains open to the public and run by the National Park Service. And with the closing of the Washington Monument until 2019, this tower provides the visitor with a great alternative for an observation deck.
HOW TO GET TO OLD POST OFFICE PAVILION
The Old Post Office is located at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW in downtown Washington DC, halfway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building. For guests staying at hotels in downtown Washington, D.C., it may be easiest to walk there. Regardless of how you arrive here, we recommend using this Google map for directions from anywhere in the city.
Note: If you are considering purchasing a hop-on-hop off bus ticket when you are in DC, most have a stop just outside the Old Post Office.
Getting to the Old Post Office by Metro is very simple and won’t require a transfer. The closest station is Federal Triangle Metro Station (blue, orange, silver), which is just across the street. When you exit the Metro station’s by escalator, turn around 180 degrees and walk toward the street (12th Street). Directly across the street is your destination. You can’t miss it. You could also use Archives Navy Memorial Station (green and yellow) as well as Metro Center (red).
The entrance to the Tower Tour is on 12th Street (368 12th Street). Below is a Google Street View image. If you scroll 180 degrees to the back of the frame, you will see where you will be walking from.
DO I NEED TICKETS TO ENTER THE OLD POST OFFICE PAVILION?
The Old Post Office Pavilion and Clock Tower are open to the public and not affiliated with Trump International Hotel. When it opens, this is the top choice for an alternative for the Washington Monument, which is closed until at least Spring 2019.
Entrance to the Old Post Office Clock Tower is free and does not require tickets. There were two elevators to take in succession to get to the top of the clock tower and its wonderful views of the city. One of the elevators was a glass one that allowed a remarkable view of the interior architecture, but it is unknown if this remains as part of the renovations.
As of Feb 2016, there is no stop at the Congressional Bells and the tower is open from floors 9-12 only.
The top is open to 25 guests at a time so large groups will need to split up or you may notice a line to get up if you arrive at a busy time. 10 people can be accommodated in the first elevator and 5 in the second.
Old Post Office Pavilion Hours: Daily 9am-4pm – hours subject to change due to staffing.
VIEWS FROM THE OLD POST OFFICE TOWER
As you enter to access the elevator, you will see an exhibit space at this early opening time, it is unfinished.
In the past, the observation deck was not completely enclosed so be prepared for wind and dress for the weather. You can look out from all four sides of the clock tower for great views of the Washington Monument and US Capitol Building.
Video by Jason S.
You can also view the Bells of Congress. The 10 bells were a bicentennial gift and are replicas of the bells at Westminster Abbey in London. Ranging in size from 300 to 3,000 pounds (140 to 1,360 kg), and from 2 to 4.5 feet (0.61 to 1.37 m) in diameter. The tower had to be renovated because it was not originally built to hold such a weight. In fact, these are one of the largest sets of change ringing bells in North America.
Due to the renovations the weekly bell ringing has been suspended and the floor in inaccessible as of Feb 2017.
HISTORY OF THE OLD POST OFFICE
Built in 1899, this extravagant building was originally the local Post Office! The construction was a feat and this was the first steel frame structure in Washington, DC, as well as the first to have electric wiring in its design. The Old Post Office had 39,000 electric lights and its own generator.
Unfortunately, it faced much criticism from shoddy designs to being “supremely ugly.” It was the city’s main post office only until 1914 when it became essentially office buildings until recently.
The building has been saved and preserved many times. It was threatened with demolition in the 1920s and again in the 1970s, both due to expansion of federal buildings in the area.
Most recently the building had a failing retail space and needed major upgrades, which were done as part of its current state as the Trump International Hotel.
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL
The Old Post Office Pavilion was turned into a luxury hotel and opened in late 2016. The Old Post Office was a run down office building with a sparse food court and a few souvenir vendors. It has been renovated and upgraded as is fitting such a beautiful structure. Much of the integrity of the building has been left in tact, especially the exterior.
The hotel offers two dining options – BLT Prime which lists itself as a contemporary steakhouse and the Benjamin Bar and Lounge, which features libations and upscale bar food. The latter takes its name from the US first postmaster general, Benjamin Franklin, who was also known as the “Founding Foodie.”
When the clock tower reopens it will be separate from the hotel.