THE PENTAGON is the headquarters of the United States Department of
Defense , located in Arlington County ,
Virginia , across the Potomac
Washington, D.C. As a symbol of the U.S. military , _The
Pentagon_ is often used metonymically to refer to the U.S. Department
Pentagon was designed by American architect George Bergstrom
(1876–1955), and built by general contractor
John McShain of
Philadelphia . Ground was broken for construction on September 11,
1941, and the building was dedicated on January 15, 1943. General
Brehon Somervell provided the major motive power behind the project;
Leslie Groves was responsible for overseeing the project for
U.S. Army .
Pentagon is one of the world's largest office buildings, with
about 6,500,000 sq ft (600,000 m2), of which 3,700,000 sq ft (340,000
m2) are used as offices. Approximately 23,000 military and civilian
employees and about 3,000 non-defense support personnel work in the
Pentagon. It has five sides, five floors above ground, two basement
levels, and five ring corridors per floor with a total of 17.5 mi
(28.2 km) of corridors. The
Pentagon includes a five-acre (20,000 m2)
central plaza, which is shaped like a pentagon and informally known as
"ground zero ," a nickname originating during the
Cold War on the
presumption that it would be targeted by the
Soviet Union at the
outbreak of nuclear war .
On September 11, 2001 , exactly 60 years after the building's
American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and flown
into the western side of the building, killing 189 people (59 victims
and the five perpetrators on board the airliner, as well as 125
victims in the building), according to the official report. It was
the first significant foreign attack on Washington's governmental
facilities since the city was burned by the British during the War of
* 1 History
* 1.1 Construction
* 1.2 Protests
* 1.3 Renovation
September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks
* 1.5 Shooting incidents
* 1.6 Earthquake
* 2 Layout
* 4 Hall of Heroes
* 5 Services
* 6 Other uses
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links
1945 map of the
Pentagon road network , including present-day
State Route 27 and part of the
Shirley Highway , as well as the Main
Navy and Munitions Buildings near the
Lincoln Memorial .
Pentagon was built, the United States Department of War
was headquartered in the Greggory Building, a temporary structure
World War I
World War I along
Constitution Avenue on the National
Mall . The War Department, which was a civilian agency created to
U.S. Army , was spread out in additional temporary
buildings on the National Mall, as well as dozens of other buildings
in Washington, D.C.,
Virginia . In the late 1930s a new
War Department Building was constructed at 21st and C Streets in Foggy
Bottom but, upon completion, the new building did not solve the
department's space problem and ended up being used by the Department
of State . When
World War II
World War II broke out in Europe, the War Department
rapidly expanded in anticipation that the United States would be drawn
into the conflict. Secretary of War
Henry L. Stimson found the
situation unacceptable, with the
Munitions Building overcrowded and
the department spread out.
Stimson told U.S. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt in May 1941 that
the War Department needed additional space. On July 17, 1941, a
congressional hearing took place, organized by
Clifton Woodrum , regarding proposals for new War Department
buildings. Woodrum pressed Brigadier General
Eugene Reybold , who was
representing the War Department at the hearing, for an "overall
solution" to the department's "space problem" rather than building yet
more temporary buildings. Reybold agreed to report back to the
congressman within five days. The War Department called upon its
construction chief, General
Brehon Somervell , to come up with a plan.
Main Navy Building (foreground) and the
Munitions Building were
temporary structures built during
World War I
World War I on the
National Mall .
Munitions Building served as the Department of War headquarters
for several years before moving into the Pentagon.
Southwesterly view of the
Pentagon in 1998, with the
Potomac River and
Washington Monument in background.
Government officials agreed that the War Department building,
officially designated Federal Office Building No 1, should be
constructed across the Potomac River, in
Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County, Virginia .
Requirements for the new building were that it be no more than four
stories tall, and that it use a minimal amount of steel. The
requirements meant that, instead of rising vertically, the building
would be sprawling over a large area. Possible sites for the building
included the Department of Agriculture's Arlington Experimental Farm,
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery , and the obsolete Hoover
The site originally chosen was
Arlington Farms which had a roughly
pentagonal shape, so the building was planned accordingly as an
irregular pentagon. Concerned that the new building could obstruct
the view of Washington, D.C., from Arlington Cemetery, President
Roosevelt ended up selecting the Hoover Airport site instead. The
building retained its pentagonal layout because a major redesign at
that stage would have been costly, and Roosevelt liked the design.
Freed of the constraints of the asymmetric
Arlington Farms site, it
was modified into a regular pentagon which resembled the star forts of
the gunpowder age.
On July 28 Congress authorized funding for a new Department of War
building in Arlington, which would house the entire department under
one roof, and President Roosevelt officially approved of the Hoover
Airport site on September 2. While the project went through the
approval process in late July 1941, Somervell selected the
contractors, including John McShain, Inc. of
Philadelphia , which had
built Washington National Airport in Arlington, the Jefferson Memorial
in Washington, and the
National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda,
Maryland , along with Wise Contracting Company, Inc. and Doyle and
Russell, both from Virginia. In addition to the Hoover Airport site
and other government-owned land, construction of the
an additional 287 acres (1.16 km2), which were acquired at a cost of
$2.2 million. The Hell's Bottom neighborhood, a slum with numerous
pawnshops, factories, approximately 150 homes, and other buildings
around Columbia Pike , was also cleared to make way for the Pentagon.
Later 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land were transferred to Arlington
National Cemetery and to
Fort Myer , leaving 280 acres (1.1 km2) for
Contracts totaling $31,100,000 were finalized with McShain and the
other contractors on September 11, and ground was broken for the
Pentagon the same day. Among the design requirements, Somervell
required the structural design to accommodate floor loads of up to 150
pounds per square foot, which was done in case the building became a
records storage facility at some time after the end of the current
war. A minimal amount of steel was used as it was in short supply
during World War II. Instead, the
Pentagon was built as a reinforced
concrete structure, using 680,000 tons of sand dredged from the
Potomac River , and a lagoon was created beneath the Pentagon's river
entrance. To minimize steel usage, concrete ramps were built rather
than installing elevators.
Indiana limestone was used for the
building's façade. Northwest exposure of the Pentagon's
construction underway, July 1, 1942.
Architectural and structural design work for the
simultaneously with construction, with initial drawings provided in
early October 1941, and most of the design work completed by June 1,
1942. At times the construction work got ahead of the design, with
different materials used than specified in the plans. Pressure to
speed up design and construction intensified after the attack on Pearl
Harbor on December 7, 1941, with Somervell demanding that 1,000,000 sq
ft (9.3 ha) of space at the
Pentagon be available for occupation by
April 1, 1943. David J. Witmer replaced Bergstrom as chief architect
on April 11 after Bergstorm resigned due to charges, unrelated to the
Pentagon project, of improper conduct while he was president of the
American Institute of Architects . Construction was completed January
The construction of the
Pentagon was done during a time when parts of
the U.S. were under legally-mandated racial segregation . This had
structural consequences to the design of the building. Under the
supervision of colonel
Leslie Groves , the decision to have separate
eating and lavatory accommodations for white persons and black persons
was made and carried out. The dining areas for black persons were put
in the basement and on each floor there were double toilet facilities
separated by gender and race. These measures of segregation were said
to have been done in compliance with the U.S. Commonwealth of
Virginia's racial laws. The
Pentagon as a result has twice the number
of toilet facilities needed for a building of its size.
U.S. President Roosevelt had made an order ending such racial
discrimination in the U.S. military in June 1941. When the President
Pentagon before its dedication, he questioned Groves
regarding the number of washrooms and ordered him to remove the
'Whites Only' signs. Until 1965 the
Pentagon was the only building in
Virginia where segregation laws were not enforced.
The soil conditions of the
Pentagon site, located on the Potomac
River floodplain, presented challenges to engineers, as did the
varying elevations across the site, which ranged from 10 to 40 feet
(3.0–12.2 m) above sea level. Two retaining walls were built to
compensate for the elevation variations, and cast-in-place (Franki)
piles were used to deal with the soil conditions. Construction of the
Pentagon was completed in approximately 16 months at a total cost of
$83 million. The building is 77 feet (23 m) tall, and each of the five
sides of the building is 921 feet (281 m) long.
Because of the pressing needs of the war, people started working in
Pentagon before it was completed. The
Pentagon was built one wing
at a time, and after the first wing was finished, employees started to
move into that wing while construction was continuing on the other
Military police keep back
Vietnam War protesters during their
sit-in on October 21, 1967, at the mall entrance to the
Pentagon became a focal point for protests against the Vietnam
War during the late 1960s. A group of 2,500 women, organized by Women
Strike for Peace , demonstrated outside of Secretary of Defense Robert
S. McNamara 's office at the
Pentagon on February 15, 1967. In May
1967, a group of 20 demonstrators held a sit-in outside the Joint
Chiefs of Staff's office, which lasted four days before they were
arrested. In one of the better known incidents, on October 21, 1967,
some 35,000 anti-war protesters organized by the National Mobilization
Committee to End the War in Vietnam , gathered for a demonstration at
the Defense Department (the "March on the Pentagon"), where they were
confronted by some 2,500 armed soldiers. During the protest, a famous
picture was taken, where George Harris placed carnations into the
soldiers' gun barrels. The march concluded with an attempt to
"exorcise" the building.
On May 19, 1972, the American radicals known as the Weather
Underground Organization successfully planted and detonated a bomb in
a fourth-floor women's restroom in the Pentagon. They announced it was
in retaliation for the Nixon administration's bombing attacks on Hanoi
during the final stages of the Vietnam War.
On March 17, 2007, 4,000 to 15,000 people (estimates vary
significantly) protested against the
Iraq War . The protesters
marched from the
Lincoln Memorial , down Washington Boulevard to the
Pentagon’s north parking lot.
Pentagon Renovation Program
From 1998 to 2011, the
Pentagon underwent a major renovation, known
as the _
Pentagon Renovation Program_. This program, completed in June
2011, involved the complete gutting and reconstruction of the entire
building in phases to bring the building up to modern standards,
removing asbestos , improving security, providing greater efficiency
Pentagon tenants, and sealing of all office windows.
As originally built, most
Pentagon office space consisted of open
bays which spanned an entire ring. These offices used
cross-ventilation from operable windows instead of air conditioning
for cooling. Gradually, bays were subdivided into private offices with
many using window air conditioning units . With renovations now
complete, the new space includes a return to open office bays, a new
Universal Space Plan of standardized office furniture and partitions
developed by Studios Architecture .
SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS
Security camera footage of Flight 77 hitting the
Pentagon (impact at 1:25)_ 9/11 anniversary illumination
Pentagon in April 2002. The Pentagon, minutes after
American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into it A fire at the
Pentagon, with police and EMS in the foreground Main article:
American Airlines Flight 77
On September 11, 2001, the 60th anniversary of the Pentagon's
groundbreaking, a team of five al-Qaeda affiliated hijackers took
American Airlines Flight 77 , _en route_ from Washington
Dulles International Airport to
Los Angeles International Airport ,
and deliberately crashed the
Boeing 757 airliner into the western side
Pentagon at 9:37 am EDT as part of the
September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks .
All 59 civilians and the 5 terrorists on the airliner were killed, as
were 70 civilians and 55 military personnel who were in the building.
The impact of the plane severely damaged the outer ring of one wing of
the building and caused its partial collapse. At the time of the
Pentagon was under renovation and many offices were
unoccupied, resulting in fewer casualties. Only 800 of 4,500 people
who would have been in the area were there because of the work.
Furthermore, the area hit, on the side of the Heliport facade, was the
section best prepared for such an attack. The renovation there,
improvements which resulted from the
Oklahoma City bombing , had
nearly been completed.
It was the only area of the
Pentagon with a sprinkler system, and it
had been reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to
withstand bomb blasts. The steel reinforcement, bolted together to
form a continuous structure through all of the Pentagon's five floors,
kept that section of the building from collapsing for 30
minutes—enough time for hundreds of people to crawl out to safety.
The area struck by the plane also had blast-resistant windows—2
inches thick and 2,500 pounds each—that stayed intact during the
crash and fire. It had fire doors that opened automatically and newly
built exits that allowed people to get out.
Contractors already involved with the renovation were given the added
task of rebuilding the sections damaged in the attacks. This
additional project was named the "Phoenix Project ," and was charged
with having the outermost offices of the damaged section occupied by
September 11, 2002.
When the damaged section of the
Pentagon was repaired, a small indoor
memorial and chapel were included, located at the point of impact. For
the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, a memorial of
184 beams of light shone up from the center courtyard of the Pentagon,
one light for each victim of the attack. In addition, an American flag
is hung each year on the side of the
Pentagon damaged in the attacks,
and the side of the building is illuminated at night with blue lights.
After the attacks, plans were developed for an outdoor memorial, with
construction underway in 2006. This
Pentagon Memorial consists of a
park on 2 acres (8,100 m2) of land, containing 184 benches, one
dedicated to each victim. The benches are aligned along the line of
Flight 77 according to the victims' ages, from 3 to 71. The park
opened to the public on September 11, 2008.
Main articles: 2010
Pentagon shooting and Northern
On March 4, 2010, at 6:40 pm, two police officers working for the
Pentagon Force Protection Agency were shot near an entrance to the
Pentagon and fired back with their pistols at the suspect. The
officers were injured but were treated in a hospital and released. The
suspect, identified as
John Patrick Bedell (age 36), died at the
hospital. No clear motive was established. On October 19, 2010,
shortly before 5 am, an unidentified gunman shot at the south side of
the building, shattering windows on the third and fourth floors.
Main article: 2011
On August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Mineral,
shook the Pentagon. The building suffered minor damage, with flooding
from broken pipes.
August 2010 aerial view of the
Pentagon The Pentagon
(light blue) compared to large ships and buildings:
The Pentagon, 1,414 feet, 431 m RMS _Queen Mary 2_ , 1,132 feet,
345 m USS _Enterprise_ , 1,123 feet, 342 m _Hindenburg_ , 804
feet, 245 m _Yamato_ , 863 feet, 263 m
Empire State Building
Empire State Building ,
1,454 feet, 443 m _Knock Nevis_, ex-_
Seawise Giant _, 1,503 feet,
Apple Park , 1,522 feet, 464 m
Pentagon building spans 28.7 acres (116,000 m2), and includes an
additional 5.1 acres (21,000 m2) as a central courtyard. Starting
with the north side and moving clockwise , its five façades are the
Mall Terrace Entrance façade, the River Terrace Entrance façade, the
Concourse Entrance (or Metro Station) façade, the South Parking
Entrance façade, and the Heliport façade. On the north side of the
building, the Mall Entrance, which also features a portico, leads out
to a 600 ft (180 m) long terrace that is used for ceremonies. The
River Entrance, which features a portico projecting out 20 ft (6.1 m),
is located on the northeast side, overlooking the lagoon and facing
Washington. A stepped terrace on the River Entrance leads down to the
lagoon; and a landing dock was used until the late 1960s to ferry
Bolling Air Force Base and the Pentagon. The main
entrance for visitors is located on the southeast side, where the
Pentagon Metro station and the bus station are located. There is also
a concourse on the southeast side of the second floor of the building,
which contains a mini-shopping mall. The Pentagon's south parking lot
is located on the southwest side of the Pentagon, and the west side of
Pentagon faces Washington Boulevard .
The concentric rings are designated from the center out as "A"
through "E" (with in addition "F" and "G" in the basement). "E" Ring
offices are the only ones with outside views and are generally
occupied by senior officials. Office numbers go clockwise around each
of the rings, and have two parts: a nearest-corridor number (1 to 10)
followed by a bay number (00 to 99), so office numbers range from 100
to 1099. These corridors radiate out from the central courtyard, with
corridor 1 beginning with the Concourse's south end. Each numbered
radial corridor intersects with the corresponding numbered group of
offices (for example, corridor 5 divides the 500 series office block).
There are a number of historical displays in the building,
particularly in the "A" and "E" rings.
Floors in the
Pentagon are lettered "B" for Basement and "M" for
Mezzanine , both of which are below ground level. The concourse is
located on the second floor at the Metro entrance. Above ground floors
are numbered 1 to 5. Room numbers are given as the floor, concentric
ring, and office number (which is in turn the nearest corridor number
followed by the bay number). Thus, office 2B315 is on the second
floor, B ring, and nearest to corridor 3 (between corridors 2 and 3).
One way to get to this office would be to go to the second floor, get
to the A (innermost) ring, go to and take corridor 3, and then turn
left on ring B to get to bay 15.
It is possible for a person to walk between any two points in the
Pentagon in less than seven minutes.
Just south of the
Pentagon City and Crystal City ,
extensive shopping, business, and high-density residential districts
in Arlington .
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is to the north. The
Pentagon station is also located at the Pentagon, on
the Blue and Yellow Lines . The
Pentagon is surrounded by the
Pentagon road network .
United States Postal Service has established six ZIP Codes for
The Pentagon, to which the place name “Washington, D.C.” is
assigned, even though The
Pentagon is actually located in
The Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the four
service branches each have their own designated ZIP Code. The
Pentagon, south parking lot side
Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) is a United States
government agency composed of sworn federal police officers , the
Pentagon Police and civilian
CBRN technicians, and
non-sworn civilian anti-terrorism investigative and physical security
personnel, and is responsible for the protection of the Pentagon. The
Department of Defense created the PFPA after the September 11, 2001
attacks . The new agency absorbed the Defense Protective Service (DPS)
and assumed its role of providing basic law enforcement and security
Pentagon and Department of Defense sites in the 280 acre (1.1
Pentagon Reservation" and greater National Capital Region (NCR).
PFPA was also charged with providing force protection against the full
spectrum of potential threats through robust prevention , preparedness
, detection, and response measures. The United States
is the primary federal law enforcement arm of the
HALL OF HEROES
The entrance to the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes is located on
the main concourse Retired
U.S. Army major
Ed Freeman is
inducted into the Hall of Heroes in July 2001, following his receipt
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor for his service in the Vietnam War. The Hall of
Heroes original location was in the A Ring, on the second floor.
Located on the Pentagon's main concourse is the Hall of Heroes, a
room dedicated to the more than 3,460 recipients of the Medal of Honor
, the United States' highest military decoration. There are
three different versions of the Medal of Honor: the Army version, the
Sea Service version (Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard), and the Air
Force version. All three versions are displayed in the Hall of Heroes.
Along the walls of the room are the names of each recipient. An
asterisk next to some of the names denotes service members who
received two Medals of Honor for two separate acts of bravery. Dots
next to other names denote Marines who were under the command of the
World War I
World War I and received both the Army and Sea Service
versions of the
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor for a single act of bravery. The Hall
of Heroes was opened during a
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor awards ceremony on May
14, 1968. President
Lyndon Johnson officiated the ceremony and
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor to four serviceman: Specialist 5 Charles C.
U.S. Army ;
Richard A. Pittman , U.S. Marine
Corps ; Boatswain\'s Mate 1st Class
James E. Williams ,
U.S. Navy and
Gerald O. Young ,
U.S. Air Force . It was the first time that
all four services were represented in a
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor Ceremony. The
medals were awarded in the Pentagon's center courtyard. Upon the
ceremony's conclusion, President Johnson ascended a staircase to his
rear and cut a red ribbon in front of a door at the top of the stairs
providing entrance to the Hall of Heroes. At the time of the
dedication, the Hall of Heroes was located on the Pentagon's second
floor, A Ring, overlooking the courtyard. As part of the Pentagon's
renovation, the Hall of Heroes was moved to its current location on
the main concourse.
The Hall of Heroes is also used for promotions, retirements, and
other types of award ceremonies.
Pentagon has over 20 of its own fast food operations, including
Subway , McDonald\'s , Dunkin\' Donuts ,
Panda Express ,
Sbarro , among others. A multibranded
Pizza Hut , and Taco Bell
restaurant opened in 2003, when renovations to the food court were
completed. Food services are managed by the Navy Exchange . The
Center Courtyard Cafe reopened in the spring of 2008, replacing the
"Ground Zero Cafe" snack bar that was previously there.
Pentagon Athletic Center_ (PAC), a fitness center for military
and civilian staff, opened in 2004 adjacent to the north side of the
Pentagon, replacing the
Pentagon Officers Athletic Club (POAC) which
had operated for 55 years in a structure between Route 110 and the
parade grounds. Each year, the
Pentagon grounds are a major focus for
Marine Corps Marathon and the
Army Ten-Miler running
There is a _
Prayer Room_ in the Pentagon, which was
dedicated on December 14, 1970, by Secretary of Defense
Melvin Laird .
On September 11, 2002 the
Pentagon Memorial Chapel was dedicated.
In conjunction with the 1976
American Bicentennial , the Pentagon
began offering guided tours to the general public. Tours were
suspended after the
September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks , but are currently
available to the general public with reservations 14–90 days in
Pentagon and its parking lots are used as a staging area for a
number of large events, including the
Army Ten-Miler , the Marine
Corps Marathon and Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride. In 2005, the
Department of Defense organized the "America Supports Your Freedom
Walk" in the parking lot, an event held to show solidarity with the
department's current and former employees.
The roads of the
Pentagon Reservation are used daily by thousands of
Arlington, Virginia and Washington, DC.
Pentagon was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
in 1989, and was designated a
National Historic Landmark in 1992.
* Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe —Structure with
similar purposes for
* Main Building of the Ministry of Defense , Russian equivalent
HaKirya , the
Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces Headquarters
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