Washington DC: Lincoln Memorial - From the Reflecting Pool
The Lincoln Memorial, located on the National Mall, is a United States Presidential memorial honoring the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Dedicated on May 30, 1922, the peripteral structure was designed by Henry Bacon, and houses Daniel Chester French's monumental seated statue of sculpture of Lincoln.
In 1867, Congress incorporated the Lincoln Monument Association to build the memorial. A site wasn't chosen until 1901. In 1911, Congress formally authorized the memorial and the first stone was put into place on Lincoln's birthday, Feburary 12, 1914.
Bacon's design takes the severe form of a Greek Doric temple, with 36 massive columns, each 37 feet high and representative of one the 25 U.S. states and 11 seceeded states at the time of Lincoln's death, surrounding a central cella, flanked by two other cellas, and rises above the porticos. The names of the 48 states of the Union when the memorial was completed are carved on the exterior attic walls, and a later plaque commemorates the admission of Alaska and Hawaii in 1959. The stone is Indiana limestone and Yule marble, quarried at the town of Marble, Colorado.
The focus of the memorial is French's sculpture, which depicts the President worn and pensive, gazing eastward towards the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. Beneath his hands, the Roman fasces, symbols of the authority of the Republic, are sculpted in relief on the seat. The statue stands 19-feet, 9-inches tall and 19 feet wide, and was carved from 28 blocks of white Georgia marble, quarried at the town of Tate. Popular legend claims that Robert E. Lee's face is carved onto the back of the statue, looking back across the Potomoc at Arlington House, and that Lincoln is shown using sign language to represent his initials. The National Park Service denies both stories.
Insriptions of two of Lincoln's well known speeches are inscribed on the interior walls of the outer cellas below a series of murals by Jules Guerin. The south wall bears the text of the Gettysburg address below an angel, representative of truth, freeing a slave. The north wall bears the text of the second inaugural address below the depiction of unity of the American North and South. On the wall behind the statue is the dedication: "In this temple / as in the hearts of the people / for whom he saved The Union / the memory of Abraham Lincoln / is enshrined forever."
The memorial has been the site of many famous events, most famously, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered in front of 25,000 people on August 28, 1963, during the rally at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A marked tile on the memorial's steps shows where Dr. King stood. On May 9, 1970, President Richard Nixon had a impromptu middle-of-the-night meeting with protesters preparing to march against the Vietnam War just days after the Kent State shootings.
The Lincoln Memorial is shown on the reverse of the United States one cent coin, which bears Lincoln's portrait on the front, and on the back of the U.S. five dollar bill, the front of which also bears Lincoln's portrait.
In 2007, The Lincoln Memorial was ranked #7 on the AIA 150 America's Favorite Architecture list.
National Register #66000030 (1966)