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Pentagon Tours

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About the Pentagon

The Pentagon Tours program, under the purview of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, hosts more than 106,000 visitors annually. Our tours dynamically highlight the respective missions of the five Armed Services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Staff through a 60 minute presentation that includes a 1.49 mile walk through the building. Each tour includes the mission of the DOD and numerous military displays.

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Tour Guidelines

To take a guided tour of the Pentagon, you must make a reservation at least 14 days in advance through our website. Reservations are available 14 to 90 days in advance and tour schedules fill up quickly, so it is advisable to book your tour well in advance of your visit. Reservations will not be accepted for tour dates outside this 14 to 90 day window. Reservations will not be accepted for tour dates within 13 days or more than 90 days away. Please review our Tour Guidelines

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Pentagon Facts

Headquarters of the Department of Defense, the Pentagon is one of the world's largest office buildings. Built in just 16 months, the Pentagon is the world's largest low-rise office building. It is twice the size of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, has more than twice the floor space of the Empire State Building, and the U.S. Capitol could fit into any one of its five wedge-shaped sections.

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History of the Pentagon

  • Concept to Early Construction (1941 — 1942)

    By the summer of 1941, the War Department work force in the Washington, D.C. area numbered more than 24,000 civilian and military personnel housed in 17 buildings and was expected to reach 30,000 by the beginning of 1942. Providing office space for the workers was part of the military construction mission of the Quartermaster Corps Construction Division who were struggling to cope with the vast mobilization construction underway before the United States entered World War II.

    The federal government considered constructing temporary buildings, but Brigadier General Brehon B. Somervelle, an aggressive Engineer officer who headed the construction division, had another idea. On Thursday, 17 July 1941, he summoned two of his subordinates, Lieutenant Colonel Hugh J. Casey, also an Engineer officer, and George E. Bergstrom, a prominent civilian architect. He told them that by Monday morning he wanted basic plans and an architectural perspective for an air-conditioned office building to house 40,000 workers in four million square feet of space, not more than four stories high, with no elevators. Indeed, Lieutenant Colonel Casey and his staff completed the basic layout of a five-sided building by that following Monday, after what he later described was "a very busy weekend."

  • Construction to Completion (1943)

    The Pentagon building, an institution and an iconic symbol, is the headquarters of the Department of Defense (DoD). The Pentagon's three occupant groups–military, civilians, and contractors–contribute to the planning and execution of the defense of our country. The Pentagon is one of the world's largest and most recognizable office buildings. It is twice the size of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago; it has three times the floor space of the Empire State Building in New York; and the National Capital could fit into any one of the five wedge-shaped sections. The Pentagon is virtually a city in itself. In terms of population, the Pentagon's 25,650 employees make it larger than nine out of 10 towns in the United States.

  • September 11, 2001

    Exactly 60 years to the day after the ground-breaking ceremony, the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred. American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon after being hijacked, killing all aboard as well as over a hundred people within the Pentagon. The flight penetrated three of the five rings of the Pentagon. Because the affected area was under renovation at the time, several offices were unoccupied, sparing many lives. The aircraft struck on the edge between two sections, one of which had just finished being upgraded.

  • The Construction Process at A Glance

    As renovations started in the Pentagon, it is worthy to highlight what the Pentagon Renovation and Construction Program Office (PENREN) faced to complete such a massive endeavor. With approximately four million square feet of space, the design-build renovation of Wedges 2–5 included the removal of all hazardous materials, replacement of all building systems, addition of new elevators and escalators to improve vertical circulation, and installation of new security and telecommunications systems. Additionally, sustainable design measures and force protection initiatives prompted by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack were successfully integrated into the design.