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Clock tower tours resume in Trump's DC hotel

Travel

Beginning in the spring of 2014, visitors who wanted to ride up Washington's second tallest building for a view of the city were out of luck, as the National Park Service halted tours of the historic clock tower at the top of the Old Post Office Pavilion.

The stoppage was for good reason: Donald Trump was beginning a more than two-year construction project to turn the 1899-era building into a 263-room luxury hotel.

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Tours of the Old Post Office Pavilion's clock tower resumed last month following the completion of the Trump International Hotel. Washington Post photo by Tracy A. Woodward

A lot has happened since then, to say the least: The hotel opened. Trump was elected president and retained ownership of the project, to the chagrin of the government's top ethics official. And last month, tours of the tower quietly began operating again.

The first tours resumed Feb. 9 and are now running 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, allowing the public again to see soaring views of the city from the tower that is home to the famed Congress Bells. At the moment they are the best views in the city, since the Washington Monument is now closed until at least 2018.

Visitors need not purchase a $25 cocktail or rent a $500 hotel room to gain access as Trump's company, which leases the building from the federal government, has little involvement in the tours. The National Park Service operates them, as it did before the hotel opened.

However, getting inside isn't the building isn't as easy as it used to be when the Old Post Office had a food court in the bottom levels, as protests have become so frequent out front that the hotel's management has blocked off most entrances with metal barricades and security guards.

Those interested in touring need to enter through the south entrance, near the Starbucks off 12th Street NW, just south of Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst visitors are getting in just fine. "They are accessing it from the south side or rear of the building. It's well-marked," he said.

If you hadn't heard that tours resumed, don't blame yourself. When the tours ended in 2014, the Park Service announced the stoppage but the agency made no such announcement when tours began again, instead just updating a website with touring hours.

Litterst said his agency deferred to the General Services Administration, which leases the building to the Trump Organization, to make an announcement.

"We're merely the contractor providing the service so we left any publicity to them," he said. But the GSA made no announcements and a spokeswoman there declined to comment. Trump has yet to nominate a new administrator to oversee the agency.

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