If you are being reassigned to the Pentagon, it can be overwhelming at first. Home to Department of Defense Headquarters, the Pentagon is one of the world’s largest office buildings. It is twice the size of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, and has three times the floor space of the Empire State Building in New York. The Pentagon is virtually a city in itself with over 23,000 employees, both military and civilian, assigned. It has 200 acres of lawn, 16 parking lots, 131 stairways and 19 escalators, a number of food and shopping vendors, dry cleaners and banking facilities. The building has approximately 17.5 miles of corridors. The Pentagon has a Washington D.C. address, but it is actually located in Arlington, Virginia. It is advisable to request a sponsor prior to arriving.
The Pentagon was conceived at the request of Brigadier General Brehon B. Sommervell, Chief of the Construction Division of the Office of the Quartermaster General, on a weekend in mid-July 1941. The purpose was to provide a temporary solution to the War Department’s critical shortage of space. Congress, cautious about the size of the expenditure and the enormity of the project, but anxious about events in Europe and the Far East that could require U.S. military intervention, appropriated the funds necessary to construct the War Department’s new home (approximately $83 million) on August 14, 1941. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on September 11, 1941.
The original site chosen for the Pentagon was a tract of land known as Arlington Farms. The site was bordered by five roadways thus dictating the concept of a pentagonal shaped building. Fearing the enormous building would interfere with the view of Washington, D.C. from Arlington Cemetery, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt directed the building be moved three quarters of a mile down river. The new location chosen was at the site of the old Hoover Airport, a brick factory, a pickle factory, a race track, and a low-income residential area known as Hell’s Bottom. On this site, the final design concept of an open air court surrounded by five concentric pentagonal rings (or corridors) traversed by ten spoke-like corridors was constructed.
The building was constructed out of reinforced concrete made from 380,000 tons of sand dredged from the Potomac River and supported by 41,492 concrete piles. The designers’ ingenuity not only created a building that reflected the architectural style of the nation’s Capitol but also saved enough steel to build one battleship. At the height of construction, over 1,000 architects worked in an adjacent hanger producing enough prints to supply the 14,000 construction workers and tradesmen. Three shifts worked 24 hours a day, every day, constructing the Pentagon wedge by wedge. These wedges were occupied as they came on-line. The building was dedicated on January 15, 1943, nearly 16 months to the day after the initial ground breaking.
The Pentagon has 6,500,000 gross square feet of space, 7,754 windows, and 17 1/2 miles of corridor. In spite of the building’s tremendous size, it takes only seven minutes to walk between any two points of the building because of its unique design.
In 1992, the Pentagon was designated a National Historic Landmark and had never undergone a major renovation. However, after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, the building was renovated and a Pentagon Memorial was built to honor the 184 lives lost at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77.
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). As a symbol of the U.S. military, the “Pentagon” is often used metonymically to refer to DoD rather than the building itself. It is the largest office building by floor area.
The Pentagon houses approximately 23,000 military and civilian employees and approximately 3,000 non-defense support personnel.
DoD Bus Service
The Department of Defense has established a DoD bus service that operates during normal duty hours. The buses are available for use by DoD personnel on official business. The service is free and all DoD installations or activities in the metropolitan Washington area may be reached by one or more of the lines. A complete schedule is available at the information booth on the Concourse, at the Pentagon DoD bus stops at South parking, by calling 703-571-2019 or by visiting the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall website and clicking on the “Mass Transit” link located under “Getting Around” on the left side of the home page. (Note: Due to security issues, users will need a CAC to obtain the schedule from the website.)
Myer Flyer Bus Service
A shuttle bus, the Myer Flyer, offers a work-run service between the Pentagon and Fort Myer during rush hours only. In the morning, the bus runs from 5:15 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. During the afternoon rush hour, the bus runs from 4:25 p.m. until 6:35 p.m. The schedule and a map of the bus stops can be found on the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall homepage under the “Mass Transit” link.
Support services such as Finance, Military Personnel and ACS for those assigned to the Pentagon are provided by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH).
Requests for area Welcome Packets and information can be made by contacting JBM-HH Army Community Service Relocation Program at 1-800-477-9571 or 703-696-0156/3510.
Pentagon information and local area information is also provided by Armed Forces Hostess Association (AFHA), an all volunteer group of military spouses representing all five of the uniformed services whose office is located within the Pentagon. They can be reached by calling 703-614-0350/6857 or 703-697-0485.
The Official site of Washington Headquarters Services, also offers information for those working in the Pentagon.
For guests wanting to stay in military facilities, there are several other military temporary lodging facilities in the region. They include:
Andrews Air Force Base, 301-981-8754/8756/8749
Bellevue Navy Lodge, 202-563-6950 or 1-800-628-9466
Bolling Air Force Base, 202-404-7050
Fort Belvoir, 703-704-8600 or 1-800-295-9750
Anacostia (Officers only), 202-433-3862
If rooms are unavailable, the local area is abundant with hotels nearby. For a listing of hotels, contact the JBM-HH Relocation Program at 1-800-477-9571.
Relocation assistance for Army personnel assigned to the Pentagon is provided by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH).
The JBM-HH Army Community Service (ACS) has a lending closet which offers basic household essentials such as pots and pans, futons, folding tables and chairs, coffee makers, high chairs, and more. Items are loaned out for up to 30 days at a time. It is important to note that the lending closet does not provide linens or furniture. For information, contact the ACS Relocation office at 1-800-477-9571 or 703-696-0156/3510.
Finance and Military Personnel in-processing is conducted daily from 8:00 am until 11:30 am. On Thursdays, a Newcomer Orientation, “Start Right” is offered from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm. For information, contact the JBM-HH Military Personnel Directorate at 703-696-3695 or DSN 312-426-3695.
The use of public transportation in Washington is recommended as on-street parking is limited and traffic is often heavy. There is also a wait list for parking permits. As incentive for using public transportation, the National Capital Region has a mass transit benefit program that provides Federal workers up to $230 a month to help offset the cost of using public transportation to commute to work.
Washington, DC has an extensive subway system. It serves the entire District of Columbia plus the most populous Maryland and Virginia suburbs. The Metrorail runs from 5:00 a.m. (weekdays), 7:00 a.m. (weekends) to approximately midnight (Sunday-Thursday), 3:00 a.m. (Friday-Saturday). The time between trains varies from 3 to 20 minutes depending on the time of day and the rail line involved.
The fare for a trip is based on time of day (rush hour vs. non-rush hour) and the departure and destination station combination.
To reach the Pentagon via the public MetroRail system, take either the yellow or blue line to the Pentagon stop. Exit the Metro and take the escalator up to the Pentagon entrance. For Metrorail map and more information, visit the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority website.
Union Station is the main intercity railway station in Washington. It is well served by Amtrak from cities up and down the East coast. A Washington Metrorail station (Red Line) is located there also. The Pentagon is one line change (to the Yellow Line) and five Metro stops away.
Virginia Railway Express
Crystal City and Union Station are both served by Virginia Rail Express (VRE). There are two lines, one serving Fredericksburg to the south and the other serving Manassas to the west. Schedule and fare information can be obtained by calling 703-658-6200 and also from the VRE website.
If you choose to drive, the Pentagon is about a ten minute walk from the Pentagon City Mall parking garage and is reached through a pedestrian tunnel. Once through the tunnel, look for signs to the Metro entrance. No shuttle service is provided to or from the Pentagon. There is a charge for parking at the mall.
From the North — Take I-270 South to the I-495 South (Capital Beltway). Merge onto George Washington Parkway. Take the exit toward VA-27/Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove/I-395/Pentagon.
From the South — From West of the Potomac River, take I-95 North. Merge onto I-395 North. Merge onto VA-27N/ Washington Blvd. toward the Pentagon.
From east of the Potomac River, take I-295 (North or South, depending on starting point) to the I-395 South. Merge onto the I-395 South. Exit the Boundary Channel Dr/ Exit 10A toward Pentagon North Parking. Turn left at Boundary Channel Dr and right at North Rotary Rd. Follow Rotary Rd. around for bus drop-offs.
From the East — If close to the Potomac River, follow the “From the south” directions above, starting with “From East of the Potomac River.” If farther from the Potomac River, take I-495 South (Capital Beltway). Then follow the “From the South” directions, starting with “Merge onto I-395 North.”
From the West — Take Route 50 East toward Arlington. Exit the VA-27 E/ Washington Blvd. Merge onto VA-27 S/Washington Blvd.
Union Station is also served by weekday Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) trains from Silver Spring, Kensington, Garrett Park, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown and suburbs further to the northwest. MARC service goes all the way to Martinsburg, West Virginia. MARC also runs two additional lines to the northeast. Their Penn Line goes all the way to Aberdeen, MD, northeast of Baltimore. MARC service is less frequent and more expensive than Metrorail service. Schedule and fare information can be obtained 24 hours a day by telephone from the Maryland Transit information line at 800-325-7245.
The Pentagon does not have a Child Development Center. A joint Pentagon/Ft. Myer Child Development Center (CDC) was established on Fort Myer in 2008. The Fort Myer CDC accommodates Families who work at the Pentagon, Ft. Myer, Henderson Hall, and Ft. McNair. It is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and currently certified by the Department of Defense (DOD). The center has the capacity to serve over 400 children. or more information, contact the CDC at 703-696-3095/3766.
All Child Development Services may be used by children 6 weeks through 5 years old, of active duty military and DOD Civilians.
Programs are offered for children 6 weeks through 5 years of age at the CDC. These include full-day part day and hourly child care on a space available/emergency basis.
Childcare fees are based on total family income.
Central registration is done on site and, under the Army Family Covenant; registration is free for Army Families. Forms can be downloaded from the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website.
Priorities for Care
The waitlist for child care is lengthy. Priority is given to the following: Single Military and DoD Civilians; dual Military and DoD Civilians; Military with a DoD Civilian spouse; mission related geographically single spouses; and siblings of children already enrolled.
Additional military installations in the area with Child Development Centers include Fort Belvoir, Andrews Air Force Base, Bolling Air Force Base, and Quantico Marine Corps Base.
Special Installation Messages
Defense Service Network (DSN) Dialing Instructions
The DSN is the provider of long-distance communications service for the Department of Defense (DoD). Every installation has a special DSN number and the numbers vary by world-wide location. In order to place a call using DSN, the caller must be using a military phone on an installation. Cell phones cannot dial DSN numbers. When dialing a DSN number from a United States installation to another United States installation, it is unnecessary to dial the DSN 312 area code. When dialing a DSN number to/from overseas locations, the DSN area code must be included. The operator can be reached at commercial (719) 567-1110. Please note that long distance charges may be incurred.
The Pentagon Access Control Branch is located in Room 1F1084 (Metro Entrance) at the Pentagon. This office serves DoD employees who require a building pass, which includes DoD civilians and contractors, as well as all branches of the military who require a Common Access Card (CAC). Access to the Pentagon is granted to active duty personnel who are being reassigned to the Pentagon with a valid CAC and a second form of identification.