Why is the Pentagon a Pentagon? Uncovering the Historical Reasoning

The Pentagon, designed by George Edwin Bergstrom during World War II, consolidates U.S. military offices due to space needs and strategic location near D.C.

Historical Significance and Design

Origins and Architectural Intent

The Pentagon was built during World War II as a response to the growing need for office space to accommodate the expanding military establishment.

The design of the building was influenced by a desire to consolidate the various divisions of the Army, Navy, and Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Architect George Edwin Bergstrom and the Army Corps of Engineers were responsible for creating the unique five-sided design due to the peculiar shape of the land chosen for construction.

Strategic Location and Context

The Pentagon is located in Arlington County, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. Its strategic placement was influenced by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to move military operations further away from the White House.

The building sits near the Potomac River and is easily accessible from the Capitol, providing a secure and prominent location.

Construction Milestones

Construction on the Pentagon began on September 11, 1941, 60 years to the day before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

The construction of the Pentagon was managed by the Army’s Construction Division and involved various contractors, including John McShain. Col. Leslie Groves, who later oversaw the Manhattan Project, played a key role in the building’s construction.

The Pentagon was completed in January 1943, making it the world’s largest low-rise office building.

Alterations and Renovations

The Pentagon has undergone several renovations and alterations since its completion.

Most notably, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Phoenix Project was initiated to repair and renovate the damaged sections of the building.

In addition, the building’s infrastructure has been updated over the years to accommodate changing needs and technological advancements.

Through its unique design, strategic location, and historical significance, the Pentagon continues to stand as a symbol of American military power and resilience.

The Pentagon in American History and Culture

The Pentagon stands tall, its five sides forming a distinctive shape.</p><p>Surrounding it are symbols of American history and culture, representing the significance of this iconic building

Symbol of U.S. Military Strength

The Pentagon, located in Arlington County, Virginia, is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and has long been a symbol of America’s military strength.

Its unique shape, which consists of five concentric rings, was a design decision made by architect and Army Brigadier General Brehon B. Somervell1.

Construction began on September 11, 1941, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration and the direct supervision of Somervell2.

The choice of location was influenced by its proximity to key national sites such as the Lincoln Memorial and Robert E. Lee’s former residence.

Impact of September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, the Pentagon was struck by American Airlines Flight 77, which had been hijacked by terrorists3.

This devastating attack resulted in the deaths of 189 people4 and marked a turning point in American history.

In response to the tragic events, a memorial was built on the site to honor the lives lost and to serve as a reminder of the nation’s resilience.

Modern Security Measures

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, security at the Pentagon has been significantly strengthened.

Today, several modern measures protect the building and its occupants, including a state-of-the-art heliport and an underground bunker in Maryland5.

In addition, a hot dog stand located within the Pentagon was once said to have been used by Soviet satellite imagery to estimate the location of key personnel within the building6.

The Pentagon as a National Icon

The Pentagon has witnessed many turbulent events in its history, such as the Vietnam War and the Weather Underground’s bombings in the 1970s7.

Despite these challenges, the people of the United States and its armed forces have persevered and continued to protect the nation.

As a symbol of the country’s resolve and dedication to its military, the Pentagon stands strong as a national icon.


  1. https://taskandpurpose.com/history/pentagon-shape-6-weird-facts-dods-hq

  2. https://www.defense.gov/News/Feature-Stories/story/Article/1867440/pentagon-history-7-big-things-to-know/

  3. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-pentagon-pentagon-180962719/

  4. https://www.history.com/topics/us-government-and-politics/pentagon

  5. https://www.defense.gov/News/Feature-Stories/story/Article/1867440/pentagon-history-7-big-things-to-know/

  6. https://taskandpurpose.com/history/pentagon-shape-6-weird-facts-dods-hq/

  7. https://taskandpurpose.com/history/pentagon-shape-6-weird-facts-dods-hq/