7 Things You Didn't Know about the Pentagon

Posted on Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

  1. The Pentagon has 6 Zip Codes.
The Pentagon, while located in Arlington, Virginia, has a Washington, D.C. address as dictated by the U.S. Postal Service. There is a different zip code for each of the 4 service branches, and one for the Secretary of Defense, and another for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  1. Employees were Working in the Pentagon Before Construction was Completed.
Ground was broken on the Pentagon September 11, 1941 to consolidate the offices of the U.S. military. Construction was carried out on a 24-hour schedule, and the building was built in sections. As soon as one section was built, people would start to move in to work! The first occupants began working in April of 1942, only 6 months after the project began. The entire Pentagon was completed in January of 1943.
  1. The Pentagon is One of the Largest Office Buildings in the World.
Okay, so you knew that already. There are over 17 miles of hallways within the Pentagon, and the distance around the perimeter is nearly a mile. However, because of its shape, it takes no more than 7 minutes of walking to get to any point within the Pentagon.
  1. During the Cold War, a Hot Dog Stand was the Most Menacing Building in America.
Satellite coverage taken of the Pentagon by the Soviets showed substantial amounts of activity around a shack in the center of the Pentagon. Soviets believed the Pentagon itself was intended as a fortress around what they believed to be the entrance to a secret underground command bunker, but in reality, was just a concession stand. Legend says during the Cold War, no less than half of the Soviet Arsenal was prepared to fire at the concession stand at any point in time.
  1. Renovations Saved 1000s of Lives.
By the 1990’s, the Pentagon was hardly a functional office building. Reports of rat infestations, asbestos, and blackouts were common. Being built in the 1940’s, the Pentagon simply wasn’t built to sustain modern equipment like computers. So, in 1998, renovations began a section at a time. By 2001, only one section was completed, with walls reinforced, and most employees hadn’t even moved back into their offices yet. On 9/11, airplane 77 struck the renovated section of the building, injuring 184 people. The reinforced building didn’t immediately collapse, allowing for some employees to crawl to safety from the building. Experts estimate if the plane had hit any other section of the Pentagon, even more damage would have occurred, and the building would have collapsed immediately.
  1. The Pentagon is Basically a Giant Museum.
The Pentagon is committed to helping further national security interests and working to be sure the American military presence remains the best in the world. In order to bring some life to the 17.5 miles of corridors, the Pentagon has informational displays to commemorate wars over time, the history of the building itself (including a diorama of pre-renovation 1980’s Pentagon!) and displays to honor the work that even civilians have done to support the U.S. mission. Of course, outside the Pentagon, there is also the 9/11 memorial, with 184 benches to remember those who died, and a chapel within the building to remember the victims.
  1. The Pentagon was Built During a Steel Shortage.
The Pentagon is only 5 stories tall because it was built before the 2nd World War and building too high requires the use of steel. This is also the reason the original Pentagon blueprints didn’t include any elevators. All travel from floor to floor was done using ramps or stairs.

Claudia Borovina
Air Force Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. | summer 2018