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Building Stones of Our Nation's Capital

Online Version 1.0

The U.S. Geological Survey has prepared
this publication as an earth science
educational tool and as an aid in
understanding the history and physical
development of Washington, D.C.,
the Nation's Capital.

The buildings of our Nation's Capital have been constructed with rocks from quarries throughout the United States and many distant lands. Each building shows important features of various stones and the geologic environment in which they were formed.

This booklet describes the source and appearance of many of the stones used in building Washington, D.C. A map and a walking tour guide are included to help you discover Washington's building stones on your own.

When choosing a building stone, architects and planners use three characteristics to judge a stone's suitability. It should be pleasing to the eye; it should be easy to quarry and work; and it should be durable. Today it is possible to obtain fine building stone from many parts of the world, but the early builders of the city had to rely on materials from nearby sources. It was simply too difficult and expensive to move heavy materials like stone before the development of modern transportation methods like trains and trucks.


Washington's Geologic Setting   ||    Washington's Building Stones   ||    Acid Rain in Washington   ||    Descriptions and Origins of Selected Principal Building Stones of Washington   ||    Building Stones of Washington Walking Tour   ||   About This Publication

VIEW a list of other USGS General Interest Publications

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
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Last revised 2-18-99 (krw)