Monuments & Memorials
Lincoln Memorial – At the western end of the mall sits one of the most recognizable edifices in the country. Dedicated in 1922 to our 16th President Abraham Lincoln, the memorial has been the site of many of the nations more recent iconic moments. “The March on Washington” in 1963, the Easter concert of Marion Anderson…and it remains a focal point of redress and renewal.
Washington Monument – At 555 ft., the Washington Monument is the tallest free standing stone structure in the world. An obelisk of white marble, dedicated in 1885, it can be seen from almost all quarters of the city and beyond. An elevator ride to the top is well worth the wait – no other vantage lays out the vision of the city below.
Jefferson Memorial – Designed by John Russell Pope,its once controversial form is now appreciated for its simple elegance and setting on the banks of the Tidal Basin. In the spring time with the cherry blossoms in bloom, it epitomizes the cultivated beauty of the city.
White House – For more than two centuries, the White House has been the home of our elected presidents and their families. Completed in 1800, after an architectural competition won by a young Irishman named James Hoban, the design is that of a simple Georgian mansion. Its public rooms tell the story of the nation’s history in taste, and interior design and furnishings.
United States Capitol Building – The national assembly house, with its cast iron dome topped by the “Statue of Freedom”, is Washington’s most prominent landmark. Although the building has undergone numerous reconfigurations, the original design was done by Dr. William Thornton. A tour of the building and an examination of the functions of this institution can be the highlight of a visit to the city.
United States Supreme Court – This building houses the third branch of our system of government. Until moving here in 1935, the Court had no permanent space of its own. Some say the the building is still too close to the legislative branch, and it should move further away. In the meantime, the Courts term starts the first Monday of October.
National World War II Memorial – Dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces, and as civilians, during World War II, this monument, consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of small triumphal arches surrounding a plaza and fountain, opened in April 2004. It sits on the former site of the Rainbow Pool, at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial – When it was dedicated in 1982, the design by Maya Lin was initially dismissed as too abstract and not in keeping with more traditional war memorials. However, over the years, its simplicity became a powerful symbol of the fraught emotions the war invoked, and a physical manifestation of the healing process.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial – The street address for the King Memorial is 1964 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., with “1964” chosen as a direct reference to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a milestone in the Civil Rights movement in which King played an important role. The memorial is located on a 4-acre site in West Potomac Park that borders the Tidal Basin. It is the first memorial to an African American on the National Mall.
Library of Congress – The largest library in the U.S., if not the world, the Library of Congress houses more than 33 million books and many historical treasures. Opened in 1897, its interior was a showcase for American artists at the time featuring murals, mosaics, and sculptures all combined to make the rotunda and hallways the most beautiful public spaces in the Capitol city. It is the one building that displays the grandeur and intelligence of Washington.
Smithsonian Institution – Established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”, the Smithsonian consists of 19 museums, nine research centers, and a zoo. This includes the American History Museum, Air & Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Arts Industries and Technology exhibition. It is the largest such complex in the world. The Institution’s thirty million annual visitors are admitted without charge; funding comes from the Institution’s own endowment, private, and corporate contributions, membership dues, and government support.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture – This is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.