If you’re planning a trip to Washington D.C., one attraction you won’t want to miss is the Lincoln Memorial. This iconic monument is a tribute to one of America’s greatest presidents and draws millions of visitors every year. In this article, we’ll explore the history and background of the Lincoln Memorial, things to do and see, wildlife and natural environment, and practical information for visitors.
History and Background
The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most iconic and visited monuments in the United States. It’s a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, one of the country’s most beloved and influential presidents. Let’s dive deeper into the history and background of this historic monument.
The Idea for a Lincoln Memorial
The idea for a monument to honor Abraham Lincoln was first proposed shortly after his death in 1865. However, it took several decades for the idea to gain momentum. In 1901, a group of African American citizens led by Mary Church Terrell formed the Lincoln Memorial Association to raise funds for the monument. The association was instrumental in advocating for the construction of the Lincoln Memorial and raising the necessary funds.
The Design and Construction of the Lincoln Memorial
Henry Bacon, inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, designed the Lincoln Memorial. The monument, modeled after Athens’ Parthenon, has 36 Doric columns, each representing a state in the Union at Lincoln’s death. The monument’s exterior is white Georgia marble and its interior Indiana limestone.
Lincoln’s 19-foot marble statue dominates the Lincoln Memorial. Daniel Chester French spent four years sculpting the statue. French depicts Lincoln on a throne with his left hand on an armrest and his right hand holding a document. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to free Confederate slaves.
The Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1922, in a ceremony attended by President Warren G. Harding and other dignitaries. The keynote address was delivered by Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln. In his speech, Lincoln said, “The statue that rises above us in this temple of enduring stone and metal is not alone the likeness of the great leader who preserved the Union. It is the image of the American people, generous, just and strong, who knew him and loved him best.”
Things to Do and See
The Lincoln Memorial is not only a historic monument, but it’s also a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Here are some of the top things to do and see when visiting the Lincoln Memorial.
Admire the Impressive Architecture
The Lincoln Memorial’s stunning architecture is a must-see when visiting Washington D.C. The monument is modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and features 36 Doric columns, each standing 44 feet tall. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details of the columns, the marble walls, and the impressive statue of Abraham Lincoln.
Marvel at the Statue of Abraham Lincoln
The centerpiece of the Lincoln Memorial is the 19-foot marble statue of Abraham Lincoln. The statue, sculpted by Daniel Chester French, is an impressive work of art that captures Lincoln’s likeness and his importance to American history. Be sure to take some time to marvel at the statue and consider the significance of Lincoln’s legacy.
Take in the Views of the National Mall
The Memorial Park offers breathtaking views of the National Mall and the Washington Monument. Take a walk around the monument’s exterior and admire the views of the reflecting pool, the National World War II Memorial, and the U.S. Capitol building in the distance.
Attend a Special Event or Ceremony
The Lincoln Memorial is a popular location for special events and ceremonies throughout the year. The monument has been the site of many historic moments, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Check the National Park Service website for information on upcoming events and ceremonies.
Visit the Lincoln Memorial at Night
The Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours a day, and visiting at night is a unique experience. The monument is beautifully lit up, and the crowds are much smaller, making it a peaceful and reflective experience. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the stunning nighttime views of the National Mall.
Wildlife and Natural Environment
While the Lincoln Memorial is known for its historical significance and impressive architecture, it’s also surrounded by a beautiful natural environment that’s home to a variety of wildlife. Here are some of the things to keep an eye out for when visiting the Lincoln Memorial.
The area surrounding the Lincoln Memorial is home to a diverse range of bird species. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, which are often seen soaring over the Potomac River. Other species commonly spotted in the area include ospreys, herons, and ducks.
Squirrels and Chipmunks
The Lincoln Memorial’s surrounding grounds are also home to a variety of small mammals, including squirrels and chipmunks. These furry creatures can often be seen scampering around the monument’s exterior, gathering food and enjoying the natural surroundings.
Trees and Plants
The Lincoln Memorial’s grounds feature a variety of trees and plants, including cherry blossoms, which bloom in the spring and attract thousands of visitors to the National Mall. The surrounding parks and green spaces also offer a peaceful escape from the busy city streets, with plenty of benches and picnic areas to enjoy.
The Potomac River flows alongside the Lincoln Memorial, offering stunning views of the water and the surrounding natural environment. Visitors can take a walk along the river’s edge or even go for a paddle in a kayak or canoe to explore the area further.
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is a large urban park located just a few miles from the Lincoln Memorial. The park features hiking trails, picnic areas, and even a planetarium. It’s a great place to spend a day exploring the natural beauty of the Washington D.C. area.
Practical Information for Visitors
If you’re planning a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make the most of your trip.
Hours and Admission
The Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Admission to the monument is free, making it an accessible and affordable attraction for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
The Lincoln Memorial is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., making it easily accessible by public transportation, bike, or car. There are several parking garages located nearby, but street parking can be difficult to find in the busy downtown area. The closest metro stations are Foggy Bottom-GWU on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines, and Smithsonian on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
What to Wear
The Lincoln Memorial is an outdoor monument, so it’s important to dress for the weather. In the summer months, it can get quite hot and humid in the Washington D.C. area, so be sure to wear lightweight and breathable clothing. In the winter, temperatures can drop below freezing, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a warm coat.
The Lincoln Memorial is accessible to visitors with disabilities, with ramps and elevators available for those in wheelchairs or with mobility issues. There are also designated accessible parking spaces located nearby.
While the Lincoln Memorial is free to visit, there are guided tours available for those who want to learn more about the monument’s history and significance. The National Park Service offers several different tour options, including ranger-led tours and audio tours, which can be accessed through a smartphone or other device.
The Lincoln Memorial is located in the heart of Washington D.C., making it a great starting point for exploring the city’s other attractions. Some nearby attractions to check out include:
- The National Mall and Memorial Parks, which includes several other monuments and memorials.
- The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, which features exhibits on American history and culture.
- The United States Capitol, where visitors can take a tour of the historic building and learn about the workings of the U.S. government.
Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a beautiful and inspiring place to visit, the Lincoln Memorial has something to offer everyone. With its stunning design, rich history, and 24-hour accessibility, the monument is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Washington D.C. area. We hope that our guide has provided you with the information and inspiration you need to plan your trip to this iconic monument. So what are you waiting for? Grab your camera and head to the Lincoln Memorial to explore the beauty and history of one of America’s most treasured landmarks!
READ MORE HERE: Lincoln Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)