Built in white stone with 36 iconic columns, The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most recognized structures in the United States. The memorial is at the west end of the National Mall, in West Potomac Park, and is an example in Neoclassical architecture. It features a solitary, 19-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in contemplation, which is flanked on both side chambers with inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and arguably his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. The statue is 19 feet high and weighs 175 tons. The National Park Service estimates that the memorial draws roughly six million visitors per year.
The memorial honors the “Great Emancipator” and 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Designed by Henry Bacon in the style of ancient Greek temples, construction began in 1914, with the memorial opening to the public in 1922. Carving of the Lincoln statue took four years and was completed by the Piccirilli brothers under the supervision of the statue’s sculptor, Daniel Chester French. The murals contained on the inside of the memorial were painted by Jules Guerin. Many large gatherings and protests have taken place at this important memorial – Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of it in 1963.
Entrance to the Lincoln Memorial is free and open 24 hours a day, daily, except for Dec. 25. Rangers are available to answer questions between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. every day, and interpretive programs are given hourly from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Photography is prohibited above the white marble steps and the interior chamber of the Memorial. Tripods are strictly forbidden without a permit.
The most convenient way to see the Lincoln Memorial is via Metro or bus. The closest Metro stops are Foggy Bottom and Smithsonian, both on the Orange and Blue lines. If traveling by Metrobus, take the 32, 34 or 36 Metrobuses. Parking is available on Ohio Drive between the memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, but note that street parking is very limited in Washington, DC.
The Lincoln Memorial is located across from the Washington Monument, on the west end of the National Mall. Many of the major national landmarks in the District are close by: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the White House, among others.
- The 36 Doric columns surrounding the memorial represent the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death.
- The original plan for the Memorial included six equestrian and 31 pedestrian statues of great size, with a 12-foot statue of Lincoln in the middle. This project never began due to a lack of funding.
- Plaster casts of Lincoln’s face were used by Daniel Chester French in his sculpting of the memorial’s statue.
- The 58 steps of the memorial sit nearly two miles directly west of the U.S. Capitol. Two of the steps represent the number of terms that Lincoln served as President, the remaining 56 steps represent Lincoln’s age when he was assassinated.
- Lincoln’s last living son, Robert Todd Lincoln, attended the memorial’s dedication on May 30, 1922.