Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a world with equality for all. Today, his dream lives on at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. Open to the public, the newest memorial on the National Mall is the first to honor a non-president and the first to honor a man of color. The memorial was designed as a lasting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and will forever serve as a monument to the freedom, opportunity and justice for which he stood.
About the Memorial
Opened 48 years after Dr. King’s stirring "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC welcomes another great leader to the National Mall. A visit to the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a must-see on any trip to the nation's capital. The memorial is situated on a four-acre site along the Tidal Basin, adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and sharing a direct line of sight between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. It is open daily, with park rangers on site from 8 a.m. to midnight.
The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders. The two boulders, which started as one, represent the Mountain of Despair. The boulders are split in half to give way to the Stone of Hope, which appears to have been thrust forward toward the horizon in a great monolithic struggle. The Stone of Hope and the Mountain of Despair together represent the soul-stirring words from Dr. King’s history-making "I Have a Dream" speech. On the visible side of the Stone of Hope, the text from King’s famed 1963 speech is cut sharply into the rock: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." On the other side are inscribed these words: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness," a statement suggested by Dr. King himself when describing how he would like to be remembered. Every visitor enters through the Mountain of Despair and tours the memorial as if moving through the struggle that Dr. King faced during his life. Visitors end in the open freedom of the plaza. The solitary Stone of Hope stands proudly in the plaza, where the civil rights leader gazes over the Tidal Basin toward the horizon, forever encouraging all citizens to strive for justice and equality.
Take Metrorail’s Orange or Blue line to the Smithsonian station and leave the platform at the 12th Street/Independence Avenue SW exit. Walk west on Independence in the direction of the Washington Monument. Cross to the far side of 15th Street and turn left. Walk until you hit the Tidal Basin, then take the path to your left, past the Jefferson Memorial to the MLK Memorial. Regular cash fares from Union Station are $1.85 each way, and peak fares (7:30-9 a.m. and 4:30-6 p.m.) are $2.40. SmartTrip fares provide a 25-cent savings off any fare. Seniors and disabled persons ride for half-price. Up to two children 4 and younger ride for free with each paying adult.
For a PDF guide of the walking routes to the memorial, click here.
The 3.3-mile trip by taxi from Union Station is about 10 minutes. DC taxis have a base rate of $3, plus 25 cents for each additional 1/6 mile. There is a $1 surcharge for peak traffic hours (7-9 a.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday); each additional passenger 6 years and older is $1.50, and there are extra charges for sitting in traffic.
Washington, DC played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement. Which is why, in addition to the opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, DC is also honoring its role in history with the ongoing Civil War to Civil Rights citywide commemoration. With special exhibitions, walking tours, restaurants, attractions and performances all participating, Civil War to Civil Rights offers a wonderful way to add to your Washington, DC itinerary.