10 Interesting Facts About the Pentagon

the pentagon

Built in the 1940’s, the Pentagon is currently the largest building in the world and the second heaviest. Its purpose is to act as the headquarters of the US Department of Defense, and it is capable of housing nearly 30 thousands defense workers at any given time.

This massive structure is located in Arlington, Virginia and was built initially to aid the men and women engaged in US’ war effort during World War II. From a structural point of view, the Pentagon is absolutely amazing on so many levels having more than 17 miles of corridors, a fact that makes the Pentagon the largest office building in the world. Here are ten interesting things people might not know about the Pentagon.


10The Pentagon’s unique shape comes as a result of it being planned for a different location

Before building it, they considered several locations, one of which being a stretch of land east of Arlington Cemetery, a location that once belonged to General Robert E. Lee. However, the Department of Agriculture ran an experimental farm on that location which was accessed by a series of roads forming a pentagon shape even though slightly irregular.

Even though the idea of using this location was scraped, the unique design remained as it was too late to change it. The current location of the Pentagon was picked by none other than President Roosevelt, a location that was once home to Hoover Field, one of the first airports in the Washington DC area.


9It wasn’t the only military complex built by the FDR’s presidency

Few people know this, but the Pentagon was actually the second complex built for the military, the first one being a large complex built in Washington DC’s Foggy Bottom area. Due to the fact that the US War Department was constantly growing in size, this building was soon considered to be too small for their needs.

Before the construction of the Pentagon was finished, the Us War Department used 17 different buildings to house their ever-growing ranks. The Pentagon was designed by architect George Bergstorm in just three days and it was designed to be used by 40,000 employees and 10,000 cars.


8The reasons why it is so short

Brigadier General Brehorn Somervell who was in charge of building the Pentagon, was given the task to not build the structure taller than five stories as people were concern this new structure might obstruct the scenic views to Virginia site and Washington DC.

Another reason why the building is not taller than five stories is the fact that there was a steel shortage at the time due to the country’s engagement in the war. This is why the Pentagon was built with reinforced concrete as a substitute for steel, almost 450,000 cubic yards of it. Furthermore, most of the filler used in the concrete was taken from the  grounds around the building site itself.

7The symbol of America’s military might is built on land occupied by the descendants of former slaves

Not many people know this, but during the Civil War, the land formerly owned by Robert E. Lee was used by escaped slaves as a settlement known as Freedman’s Village. After the war, several predominately black neighborhoods such as Queen City, the Seedier, and the red light district of Hell’s Bottom were built on this location. When the people in charge of building the Pentagon realized that the building site was not large enough, they had to evict around one hundred families from the area in order to make room.

6The Pentagon’s construction was overseen by the same person who was in charge of the Manhattan Project

Even though Brehorn Sommervell was in charge of the project, he wasn’t the only one. One of his subordinates, Major Leslie Groves, was also part of the team that overlooked the Manhattan Project. With the building of the Pentagon being such a major project, Sommervell alone could not possibly see to every  aspect of the ongoing project, which meant that some of the work such as the day to day construction had to be supervised by Groves. While still working on the Pentagon, Groves was also put in charge of the Manhattan Project, a project which we all know, is one of the most talked about issues in modern history.

5More bathrooms than necessary

During those troubled times, America was still fighting the segregation issue so the planners had to build twice as many bathrooms in order to accommodate both the white and “colored” employees. After President Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 8802 in 1941, however, the Pentagon became the first non-segregated building in Virginia. It seems only natural that such an important landmark of the United States would have such a “colorful” history, if you pardon the joke.

4The Pentagon was built in record time

You would imagine that a structure that big would take decades to be built and you would be wrong. The fact of the matter is that the Pentagon was over in just 16 months. The price for such an achievement was quite large as the initial budget of $35 million was soon proven to be less than the $63 million they ended up spending on finishing this extraordinary project. By today’s standards, this means that the Pentagon is worth about $900 million to say the least. In fact, due to the incredible pace it was built in, some workers moved into the offices before all the construction work was finished.

3One of the largest man-made structures on Earth

In order to understand just how big the Pentagon is, you should know that the entire US Capitol building could fit into just one of the Pentagon’s five sides. The 5 million square feet building has twice as much office space than the Empire State Building and it is rumored that when Dwight Eisenhower took his position as army chief at the end of World War II, he actually got lost wondering this incredibly vast complex. It takes an average of 10 minutes to get from one corner to the other even though the Department of Defense can provide scooters for individuals who are unable to walk the corridors on their own.

2On the Pentagon’s 60th anniversary 9/11 happened

On that dreadful day of September in 2001 the Pentagon was nearing the end of its renovations which meant that the building’s east side was unoccupied when the plane hit. However, nearly 200 people lost their lives that day while a couple of hundreds more were certainly saved by the building’s newly installed concrete reinforcements and blast-proof windows. An extensive reconstruction of the Pentagon was soon in place, costing around $5 billion, a sum which is about five times bigger than the building’s initial cost.

1The Pentagon is a city in itself

Believe it or not, around 23,000 people work at the Pentagon, both military and civilian. They come to work driving approximately 30 miles inside their 8,770 cars which they park within the 16 parking lots. After that, they climb 131 stairways in order to reach their offices that occupy more than 3 million square feet.

They can tell the time by looking at the 4,200 clocks, drink water from the 691 water fountains, use 284 bathrooms, and eat at 6 snack bars or at the privately owned restaurant inside this truly amazing building. All in all, the Pentagon is undoubtedly one of the most impressive buildings in the world and a strong statement about America’s economical and military strength.