The Lincoln Memorial is a tribute to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and Union he saved from collapse of the Civil War. Located on the Potomac River, the Lincoln Memorial is the western end point of the National Mall in direct line of sight of the U.S. Capitol over two miles away. In between is the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial.
Designed by architect Henry Bacon, the Lincoln Memorial is an open-air classical marble temple fashioned after the Greek Parthenon as a symbol of democracy and unity. This rectangular marble structure is divided into three chambers. The central chamber, the largest of the three, holds a massive 19-foot marble, seated statue of Lincoln designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address are etched into the walls of the two smaller chambers on either side.
Thirty-six doric, fluted columns, representing the 36 states of the Union at the time of the Civil War, form a colonnade around the perimeter of the Memorial. It’s capped by a frieze with the names of those states and their entry year, in order of their admission into the Union, starting with Delaware on the left front corner wrapping all the way around the four sides. A second attic frieze, the smaller rectangular roof on top of the Memorial, contains the names of the 48 states in the Union at the time of the Memorial’s dedication in 1922. Delaware is on the left corner facing the Potomac River.
The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool stretches in front of the Memorial, dividing the tree-lined footpath all the way to the World War II Memorial on its opposite side. The duck filled pond is over 2,000 feet long, has a maximum depth of 3 feet, and holds 6.75 million gallons of water. It reflects both the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, and was inspired by the reflecting basin at the Taj Mahal in India.
On the ground level, there’s a small museum, restrooms, and elevators to reach the main level, where you’ll also find a small bookstore. Park Rangers are on hand to answer questions. The memorial is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with free admission, but the amenities are closed in the evenings. Check the website for details. Plans are underway to expand the visitor services, which is scheduled for completion in time for the Memorial’s centennial in 2022. Check here for more information.