Lincoln Memorial

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Place Category: Attractions

  • Profile

    Despite its appearance on the penny and the $5 bill, the Lincoln Memorial is perhaps most recognisable as the site of historic demonstrations. In 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution barred the African-American contralto Marian Anderson from singing in their Constitution Hall, she performed for more than 75,000 people from these steps. It was here that Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech in 1963. Just a few months later, President Lyndon Johnson led candle-carrying crowds in ceremonies concluding national mourning for John F. Kennedy. Half a century of debate followed Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 before Henry Bacon’s classical design was chosen in 1911 (over proposals ranging from a triumphal arch to a memorial highway from Washington to Gettysburg).
    The neo-classical “cage” surrounding Lincoln has one Doric column representing each of the 36 states in the Union at the time of his death, their names inscribed above. The 19ft marble statue of Lincoln himself, by Daniel Chester French, peers out over the Reflecting Pool, his facial expression seeming to change at different times of day. Cut into the wall to the left of the entrance is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; to the right is his second inaugural address.

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