Washington is a place of monuments commemorating the Civil War, freedom struggles, and notable personalities that shaped them. The Lincoln Memorial with its splendid architecture and historical significance is one major attraction in the state that attracts a large number of visitors every year. Built to honor Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, this monument is covered under most tours of Washington DC. It is indeed a marvel in terms of architecture and the cultural value behind it. Below are some incredible facts about the Lincoln Memorial in Washington that will certainly reward your next Washington tours.
50 Year Delay in Construction
After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, there were numerous efforts to build a memorial as a tribute to his lasting legacy and influence. With this goal, the Congress formed a Lincoln Monument Association and it undertook a search for qualified craftsmen who can work on the proposed project. However, the many disputes that arose over this matter led to an inevitable delay of the construction until 1914. The onset of the First World War further slowed down the construction and was opened to the public in 1922.
Greek Elements in Architecture
The Lincoln Memorial consists of numerous elements of Greek Architecture and resembles a Greek Doric temple. The architect Henry Bacon used such influences in the design of the memorial specifically that of the Parthenon. The memorial has 36 columns each with a height of 13 meters. The entire structure is sculpted from Colorado white marble and limestone.
The Lincoln Statue
Daniel Chester French designed the Lincoln Statue and the Piccirilli Brothers, a prominent family of Tuscan marble carvers did the sculpting work. The Picirilli’s were originally from Italy and they infused Roman elements into the statue in the form of the pillars where Lincoln’s arms rest. Initially, it was conceived that the statue would be 10 feet tall, but as the construction progressed, the height increased to 19 feet. Lincoln’s statue is comprised of white Georgia marble and weighs 159 metric tons.
Site of Historical Events
The Lincoln Memorial was the site of some of the prominent events that shook the country. Martin Luther King proclaimed his famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered from this memorial on August 28, 1963. The memorial also served as the venue for another event that showcased the racial discrimination in the country, which was a huge concert by the African American singer Marian Anderson in 1939.
A majority of the Lincoln Memorial is located underground in the form of its extensive foundation that lies 66 feet deep in the ground. This depth of foundation is mainly intended to support the weight of the marble statue and the entire structure. As a support to this foundation is a massive basement under the memorial with steel reinforced concrete columns.