When Baltimoreans proposed this tall column in 1809, it was extraordinary - no American city had dreamed of anything like it. But the first proposed site, downtown, made residents afraid it might fall on their row houses. So it was built in remote Howard's Woods, land given by one of Gen. Washington 's officers, Col. John Eager Howard. Rising 178 feet on a hill 100 feet above sea level, it became a landmark for ships sailing upriver from Chesapeake Bay and a landmark on America 's first urban skyline. As the first monument anywhere to honor the great George Washington, it put Baltimore on the world map. Baltimore has been "the Monumental City " ever since. To view the city, foreign visitors flocked to climb the same 228 steps that you can, spiraling up inside the column. Still one of the best views in Baltimore.