The Lincoln Memorial
If you’re planning to visit Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Memorial should be on top of your things-to-do list–and for a very good reason. It is one of the most visited landmarks, loved by both locals like us at Priddy Chimney Sweeps and tourists thanks to its strategic location and historic significance. It is located south of the White House, west of the Washington Monument, and close to the banks of the Potomac River.
The impressive structure was built as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US, and the nation he fought hard to preserve during the Civil War. It is considered as one of the most profound symbols of American Democracy – the reason why it attracts millions of visitors every year. If you are planning to visit the monument, here is everything you may want to know about the construction and legacy of the Lincoln Memorial.
Lincoln Memorial’s History
The construction of the Lincoln Memorial started in 1914. Although it slowed through the First World War, it was completed in 1922. The monument was designed by Henry Bacon, a New York architect, and was styled after a Greek Doric temple. On Memorial Day, May 30, 1922, the building was dedicated and over 50,000 people attended the ceremonies. Among them was Robert Todd Lincoln, the late president’s only surviving son.
When you stand directly in front of the monument, the memorial stands 99-feet tall, 190-feet long, and 119-feet wide. There are a total of 36 columns standing 44-feet tall, each representing a state in the U.S. at the time of Lincoln’s death.
Its construction features a blend of precious stones from various US states. These include white Colorado marble used in the exterior, Indiana limestone used on the interior walls, Alabama marble used on the ceiling, and Pink Tennessee marble used on the floor.
While you may be stunned by the monuments towering 99-feet height, you will be only seeing about half of its construction. Beneath the ground, the building extends over 66-feet deep into the earth.
As you climb the stairs and enter the building, you will realize that the interior is divided into the north, south, and central chambers – each divided by rows of Ionic columns. The north chamber houses a carved inscription of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and the Unity Mural.
It represents the charity, fraternity, and the unification of the North and South after the civil war. The south chamber features the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Mural. It represents the liberation of slaves, liberty, and freedom. In the central chamber sits the grand solitary statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in contemplation.
Sitting in the center of the monument is the 19-feet tall and 175-tonnes statue of President Lincoln. The statue was designed by Daniel Chester French and carved by the Piccirilli brothers. Behind the statue is a carved epitaph which was written by Royal Cortissoz, a New York Herald Tribune columnist, lecturer, and author.
The statue is seated while facing in the direction of the Washington Monument and the nation’s Capital.
(Source: Pixabay/ Abraham Lincoln’s statue)
The Symbolism Behind the Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial was built to heal the national divisions that resulted after the Civil War. This means that everything in the Memorial is symbolically placed. The 36 columns that hold the building symbolizes the 36 reunited states at the time of Lincoln’s death.
The temple-like appearance of the structure is also symbolic. Lincoln appears in the center of his marble home just as the Greek gods did. This highlights the idea of the holiness of Lincoln’s legacy. In addition to the holiness, Lincoln’s character is also symbolized by the monument’s interior’s three-chamber design.
In the chamber’s center, the statue sits with one hand clenched while the other one is free to symbolize Lincoln’s strength as well as compassion. The two remaining chambers contain engravings of Lincoln’s two famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address. The two speeches were also seen to be powerful demonstrations of Lincoln’s strong and compassionate character.
Lincoln Memorial Opening Hours and Directions
The Lincoln Memorial is free to visit and open to visitors for 24-hours a day.
You will find rangers on duty ready to answer your questions from as early as 9:30 a.m. up to as late as 10 p.m every day of the year.
While most people prefer checking out the monument during the day, recent travelers say that the best time to visit is during the night. This is when the monument is lit up and less crowded by people.
(Source: Pixabay/ Lincoln memorial night view )
The easiest way to get to the Lincoln Memorial is by using Metrorail or Metrobus. The following Metro stations are located at a walkable distance:
- Farragut North
- McPherson Square
- Federal Triangle
- Metro Centre
- Farragut West
- L’Enfant Plaza
- Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
While in the area you should visit the Newseum as well. A museum that chronicles the history of journalism and explains how new forms of media have changed the way people both understand and spread the news.