When then-candidate Donald Trump cut the ribbon reopening Washington’s storied Old Post Office Pavilion as the new Trump International Hotel, little attention was given to the national treasure hidden inside: A clock tower that now provides the best view in the nation’s capital.
The gilded, Romanesque building, completed in 1899, is the second tallest structure in Washington D.C. is owned by taxpayers, but leased to Trump’s company. And with the Washington Monument closed for renovations, the tower is the highest point the public can visit.
Fox News recently toured the clock tower, taking in the 360-degree view of the city from a room that includes 10 bells. The tower is operated by the National Park Service, and public tours conducted by the service are set to begin soon.
The bells that chime on federal holidays, presidential elections and inaugurations are a big part of the buildings legendary history. In 1976, to mark the Bicentennial, a British philanthropic organization, the Ditchley Foundation of Great Britain, gifted them to Congress.
In 1983, the bells, a symbol of friendship between old allies, were installed in the clock tower. In addition to ringing on special occasions, they are also heard on Thursday nights, when the Washington Bell Society practices for the big events.
The Old Post Office’s position between the White House and Capitol Hill is part of ots historic legacy, according to Jane Levey, a member of the Historical Society of Washington.
“In 1899, the post office was the glue that held the nation together,” Levey told Fox News’ Jenna Lee. “In that era, before we had electronic communications, before we had good transportation, if you were a congressman and you needed to be in touch with your constituents, you needed the post office. And if you were a businessman and you needed to be in touch with your customers, you needed the post office.
“So it was the most important government function for the pretty much the first hundred years next to defense,” she added.
But over the years, the building has had narrow escapes from the wrecking ball and was even once a focal point in a sketchy neighborhood that included numerous bars and brothels. Levey said the surrounding area was once so dangerous, it was unofficially dubbed “Murder Bay.”