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Old Post Office | How to Get to the Top

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This post is a guide to reaching the top of the the Old Post Office Clock Tower (the Waldorf Astoria Hotel), how to get here and what you will see.   

 
While the building has been renovated into a luxury hotel, the Old Post Office Pavilion Clock Tower remains open to the public and is run by the National Park Service.  

For those who aren't able to score tickets to go up into the newly opened Washington Monument, this tower provides visitors with a great alternative for an observation deck.


HOW TO GET TO THE 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.

How to get to the Old Post Office Pavilion Trump Hotel

Getting to the Old Post Office by Metro is very simple and shouldn'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 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) just across the Federal Triangle.


View looking west towards White House and Washington Monument @Kevin Brigger, DC by Foot Tour Guide

DO I NEED TICKETS?

Entrance to the Old Post Office Clock Tower is free and does not require tickets.

You will, however, be subject to a security search so be aware that they will be inspecting your bags.

The top is open to 25 guests at a time so you may notice a line to get up if you arrive at a busy time.

Large groups will need to split up, as only 10 people can be accommodated in the first elevator and 5 in the second.

Old Post Office Pavilion Hours: Daily 9 am-5 pm (last entry at 4 pm). Hours subject to change due to staffing. The tower is closed once a month for cleaning which for 2022 are July 5, Aug. 2, Sept. 1, Oct. 4, Nov. 1 and Dec. 1.

Large groups will need to split up, as only 10 people can be accommodated in the first elevator and 5 in the second.


VIEWS FROM THE OLD POST OFFICE TOWER

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 U.S. Capitol Building.

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 weight. In fact, these are one of the largest sets of ringing bells in North America.

The Washington Ringing Society practice ringing the Bells of Congress every Thursday evening from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

View looking down Pennsylvania Ave NW towards the US Capitol @Kevin Brigger, DC by Foot Tour Guide

HISTORY OF THE OLD POST OFFICE

Old Post Office

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 Waldorf Astoria

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 the 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 hotel.


WALDORF ASTORIA HOTEL

The Old Post Office Pavilion was turned into a luxury hotel and opened in late 2016 as the Trump International Hotel.

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 for such a beautiful structure.

Much of the integrity of the building has been left intact, especially the exterior.

In 2022, it reopened as the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

The latter takes its name from the US first postmaster general, Benjamin Franklin, who was also known as the "Founding Foodie."


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About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: June 16th, 2022
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