First Posted: Nov 13, 2012
Jan 20, 2020

Old Post Office Tower

Towering Over the Nation's Capital and built in 1899, the Old Post Office's clock tower offers panoramic views of Washington, DC. The tower houses the Congress Bells, a Bicentennial gift from England commemorating friendship between the nations. Locals picketing under the banner "Don't Tear It Down" saved the building from demolition in 1971, then formed the DC Preservation League, important steps in the urban preservation movement.


The Old Post Office stands at the intersection of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. There are public entrances located on the Pennsylvania Avenue front side, the east side, and in back at the south side. On Sunday mornings, only the south entrance is open.

Getting There

  • Plane: Three major airports link Washington, DC with the rest of the country and the world. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport all have limousine, taxi cab, or Metro services available that will connect with the National Mall.
  • Car: Interstate 395 provides access to the Mall from the South. Interstate 495, New York Avenue, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Cabin John Parkway provide access from the North. Interstate 66, U.S. Routes 50 and 29 provide access from the West. U.S. Routes 50, 1, and 4 provide access from the East.
  • Bicycle: Several major bicycle trails make their ways to and through Washington, DC The Nation's Capital area is extremely bicycle friendly and readily accessible to riders of nearly every skill level. For detailed information about bicycle riding in the area, consult the Bicycling Information link.
  • Public Transportation: There are several Metro train and bus routes from the suburban areas surrounding the city. In addition to Washington, DC public transportation, adjacent state and commonwealth transportation authorities offer train service from area cites to the Nation's Capital. Consult the Public Transportation link for additional details.
  • Parking: General visitor parking is available along Ohio Drive, SW between the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. Bus parking is available primarily along Ohio Drive, SW near the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials and along Ohio Drive, SW in East Potomac Park. See the Maps section for a detailed understanding of these areas.
  • There is limited handicapped parking at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and World War II Memorials and near the Washington Monument and the Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln, Korean War Veterans, and Vietnam Veterans Memorials; otherwise, parking is extremely scarce in Washington, DC

Operating Hours and Seasons

Summer: Beginning Memorial Day and continuing through Labor Day, the tower is open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except Thursdays when the tower closes at 7:00 p.m. for bell ringing practice. On Sundays and Federal Holidays, the tower is open from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. Last tours go up fifteen minutes before closing.

Winter: From Labor Day to Memorial Day, the tower is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. On Sundays and Federal Holidays, the tower is open from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. The tower will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days. Last tours go up fifteen minutes before closing.

Self Guided Tours begin approximately every five minutes from the elevator lobby on the stage level of the Old Post Office Pavilion. Visitors board the glass elevator to the exhibit area and then follow the signs to gain access to the observation deck. The observation deck is exposed to the elements and may be closed during hazardous weather.

Fees and Reservations

The Old Post Office Tower has no fees or reservations associated with a visit. However, a permit may be required for some planned events, depending upon the activity and number of participants. For more information please see the permit section.

Laws and Policies


As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law makes possession of firearms in national parks subject to local and state firearms laws. It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the District of Columbia's website.

District of Columbia Law

See Division I, Title 7, Subtitle J, Chapter 25
See also Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle VI, Chapter 45

District of Columbia Attorney General: Federal law continues to prohibit firearms in federal facilities in this park. Those federal facilities are marked with signs at public entrances.

Index: Historical Buildings