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Lincoln Memorial
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Memorial
Lincoln Memorial/Sandbox is located in District of Columbia
Location: West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C.
Coordinates: 38°53′21.48″N 77°3′0.44″W / 38.8893°N 77.0501222°W / 38.8893; -77.0501222Coordinates: 38°53′21.48″N 77°3′0.44″W / 38.8893°N 77.0501222°W / 38.8893; -77.0501222
Area: 107.43 acres (0.43 km²)
Built/Founded: 1922
Architect: Henry Bacon (architect)
Daniel Chester French (sculptor)
Architectural style(s): Greek Revival
Visitation: 3,639,000 (2005)
Governing body: National Park Service
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966
NRHP Reference#: 66000030[1]

The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and was dedicated on May 30, 1922. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue (Abraham Lincoln, 1920) was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior murals was Jules Guerin. It is one of several monuments built to honor an American president.

The building is in the form of a Greek Doric temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln. The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on August 28, 1963 during the rally at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Like other monuments on the National Mall – including the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and National World War II Memorial – the memorial is administered by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since October 15, 1966. It is open to the public 24 hours a day. In 2007, it was ranked seventh on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

Contents

History

The Memorial under construction in 1916

The Lincoln Memorial, designed after the temples of ancient Greece, is significant as America's foremost memorial to her 16th president, as a totally original example of neoclassical architecture, and as the formal terminus to the extended National Mall in accordance with the McMillan Plan for the monumental core of Washington.[2]

Abraham Lincoln has long stood in the minds of the American people as a symbol of honesty, integrity, and humanity. Although a national monument to him was not raised until the 20th century, demands for a fitting memorial had been voiced since the time of his death. In 1867, Congress heeded these demands and passed the first of many bills incorporating a commission to erect a monument to Lincoln. An American, Clarke Mills, was chosen to design the structure. His plans reflected the bombastic nationalistic spirit of the age. His design called for a 70-foot (21 m) structure adorned with six equestrian and 31 pedestrian statues of colossal proportions, crowned by a 12-foot (3.7 m) statue of Lincoln. However, subscriptions for the project were insufficient and its future collapsed.[2]

The matter lay dormant until the turn of the century, when, under the leadership of Senator Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois, six separate bills were introduced to Congress for the incorporation of a new memorial commission. The first five bills, proposed in the years 1901, 1902, and 1908, met with defeat; however, the final bill (Senate Bill 9449), introduced on December 13, 1910, passed. The Lincoln Memorial Commission had its first meeting the following year and President William H. Taft was chosen as president. Progress continued at a steady pace and by 1913 Congress had approved of the Commission's choice of design and location. However, this approval was far from unanimous. Many thought that architect Henry Bacon's Greek temple design was far too ostentatious for a man of Lincoln's humble character. Instead they proposed a simple log cabin shrine. The site too did not go unopposed. The recently reclaimed land in West Potomac Park was seen by many to be either too swampy or too inaccessible. Other sites, such as Union Station, were put forth. The Commission stood firm in its recommendation though, feeling that the Potomac Park location, situation on the Washington Monument-Capitol axis, overlooking the Potomac River and surrounded by open land, was an ideal site. Furthermore, the Potomac Park site had already been designated in the McMillan Plan of 1901 to be the location of a future monument comparable to that of the Washington Monument.[2]

President Warren G. Harding speaks at the dedication of the Memorial in 1922

With Congressional approval and a $300,000 allocation, the project got underway. On February 12, 1914, an inauspicious dedication ceremony was conducted and following month the actual construction began. Work progressed steadily according to schedule. However a few changes did have to be made. The statue of Lincoln, originally designed to be 10 feet (3.0 m) tall, was later enlarged to 19 feet (5.8 m) to prevent it from being dwarfed by its huge chamber. As late as 1920, the decision was made to substitute an open portal for the bronze and glass grille which was to have guarded the entrance. Despite these changes, the Memorial was finished on schedule. In a May Day celebration in 1922, Commission president William H. Taft dedicated the Memorial and presented it to President Warren G. Harding, who accepted it for the American people.[3]

The Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 24, 1981.[4]

Exterior

The Memorial is mirrored in the Reflecting Pool at night

The exterior of the Memorial echos a classic Greek temple and features Yule marble. The structure measures 189.7 by 118.5 feet (57.8 by 36.1 m) and is 99 feet (30 m) tall. It is surrounded by a peristyle of 38 fluted Doric columns, one for each of the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln's death, and two columns in-antis at the entrance behind the colonnade. The columns stand 44 feet (13 m) tall with a base diameter of 7.5 feet (2.3 m). Each column is built from 12 drums including the capital. The columns, like the exterior walls and façades, are inclined slightly toward the building's interior. This is to compensate for perspective distortions which would otherwise make the Memorial appear asymmetrical.[5]

Detail of the Memorial's friezes

Above the colonnade, inscribed on the frieze, are the names of the 36 states and the dates in which they entered the Union. Their names are separated by double wreath medallions in bas-relief. The cornice is composed of a carved scroll regularly interspersed with projecting lions' heads and ornamented with palmetto cresting along the upper edge. Above this on the attic frieze are inscribed the names of the 48 states present at the time of the Memorial's dedication. A bit higher is a garland joined by ribbons and palm leaves, supported by the wings of eagles. All ornamentation on the friezes and cornices was done by Ernest C. Bairstow.[5]

The Memorial is anchored in a concrete foundation, 44 to 66 feet (13 to 20 m) in depth, constructed by M. F. Comer and Company and the National Foundation and Engineering Company, and is encompassed by a 187-by-257-foot (57 by 78 m) rectangular granite retaining wall measuring 14 feet (4.3 m) in height.[5]

Leading up to the shrine on the east side are the main steps. Beginning at the edge of the Reflecting Pool, the steps rise to the Lincoln Memorial Circle roadway surrounding the edifice, then to the main portal, intermittently spaced with a series of platforms. Flanking the steps as they approach the entrance are two buttresses each crowned with an 11-foot (3.4 m) tall tripod carved from pink Tennessee marble.[5]

Interior

View of the south chamber and Gettysburg Address inscription

The interior of the Memorial is divided into three chambers by two rows of Ionic columns. These columns, four in each row, are 50 feet (15 m) tall and 5.5 feet (1.7 m) in diameter at their base. The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln's second inaugural address and his Gettysburg Address. Bordering these inscriptions are pilasters ornamented with fasces, eagles, and wreaths. The inscriptions and adjoining ornamentation were done by Evelyn Beatrice Longman.[5]

Above each of the inscriptions is a 60-by-12-foot (18 by 3.7 m) mural painted by Jules Guerin graphically portraying governing principles evident in Lincoln's life. On the south wall mural, Freedom, Liberty, Immortality, Justice, and the Law are pictured, while the north wall portrays Unity, Fraternity, and Charity. Both scenes contain a background of cypress trees, the emblem of Eternity. The murals were crafted with a special mixture of paint which included elements of kerosene and wax to protect the exposed artwork from fluctuations in temperature and moisture conditions.[6]

The ceiling of the Memorial, 60 feet (18 m) above the floor, is composed of bronze girders, ornamented with laurel and oak leaves. Between the girders are panels of Alabama marble, saturated with paraffin to increase their translucency. Despite the increased light from this device, Bacon and French felt the statue required even more light. They decided upon an artificial lighting system in which a louvered lighting panel would be set in the ceiling with metal slats to conceal the great floodlights. Custodians could adjust the lights from a control room varying them according to the outside light. Funds for this expensive system were appropriated by Congress in 1926, and in 1929, seven years after the dedication, the statue was properly lighted. Since that time, only one major alteration has taken place in the Memorial's design. This was the addition of an elevator within the structure to aid handicapped visitors, which was installed in the mid-1970s.[6]

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Statue

Lying between the north and south chambers is the central hall containing the solitary figure of Lincoln sitting in contemplation. The statue was carved by the Piccirilli Brothers under the supervision of the sculptor, Daniel Chester French, and took four years to complete. The statue, originally intended to be only 10 feet (3.0 m) tall, was, on further consideration, enlarged so that it finally stood 19 feet (5.8 m) tall from head to foot, the scale being such that if Lincoln were standing, he would be 28 feet (8.5 m) tall. The extreme width of the statue is the same as its height. The Georgia white marble sculpture weighs 175 short tons (159 t) and had to be shipped in 28 separate pieces.[6]

The statue rests upon an oblong pedestal of Tennessee marble 10 feet (3.0 m) high, 16 feet (4.9 m) wide, and 17 feet (5.2 m) deep. Directly beneath this lies a platform of Tennessee marble about 34.5 feet (10.5 m) long, 28 feet (8.5 m) wide, and 6.5 inches (0.17 m) high. The statue is subtly bordered by two pilasters, one on each side. Between these pilasters and above Lincoln's head stands the engraved epitaph,[6] composed by Royal Cortissoz:[7]

IN THIS TEMPLE
AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE
FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION
THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
IS ENSHRINED FOREVER

Notable happenings

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow the African-American contralto Marian Anderson to perform before an integrated audience at the organization's Constitution Hall. At the suggestion of Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harold L. Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, arranged for a performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday of that year, to a live audience of 70,000, and a nationwide radio audience.

On August 28, 1963, the memorial grounds were the site of one of the greatest political rallies in history, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which proved to be a high point of the American Civil Rights Movement. It is estimated that approximately 250,000 people came to the event, where they heard Martin Luther King, Jr., deliver his memorable speech, "I Have a Dream," before the memorial honoring the president who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation 100 years earlier. The D.C. police also appreciated the location because it was surrounded on three sides by water, so that any incident could be easily contained.[8] On August 28, 1983, crowds gathered again to mark the 20th Anniversary Mobilization for Jobs, Peace and Freedom, to reflect on progress in gaining civil rights for African Americans and to commit to correcting continuing injustices. The "I Have a Dream" speech is such a part of the Lincoln Memorial story, that the spot on which King stood, on the landing eighteen steps below Lincoln's statue, was engraved in 2003 in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the event.

On May 9, 1970, President Richard Nixon had a middle-of-the-night impromptu, brief meeting with protesters preparing to march against the Vietnam War just days after the Kent State shootings. For President Bush's 2001 inauguration celebration, the Rockettes dance troupe kicked their legs in the air while marching down the monument's steps.[9][10] On November 27, 2006, the memorial was partially closed when a suspicious liquid was found in a bathroom. Also found was an anthrax threat letter, according to authorities.

The Memorial today

Lincoln overlooks nighttime visitors

Today, over 3.6 million people visit the memorial annually. In 2007, the Memorial was ranked seventh in the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.[11] The Memorial is open to the public 24 hours a day and is free to visit.

Depictions on U.S. currency

Reverse of a 2003 five-dollar note and 2006 Lincoln cent

From 1959 to 2008, the Lincoln Memorial was shown on the reverse of the United States one cent coin, which bears Lincoln's portrait bust on the front. The statue of Lincoln can be seen in the monument. This was done to mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

The memorial also appears on the back of the U.S. five dollar bill, the front of which also bears Lincoln's portrait.

See also

References

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://www.nr.nps.gov/.  
  2. ^ a b c NRHP Nomination, p. 4
  3. ^ NRHP Nomination, p. 5
  4. ^ NRHP Nomination, p. 6
  5. ^ a b c d e NRHP Nomination, p. 2
  6. ^ a b c d NRHP Nomination, p. 3
  7. ^ "Lincoln Memorial Design Individuals". National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/linc/historyculture/lincoln-memorial-design-individuals.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-02.  
  8. ^ Jennings, Peter; Brewster, Todd. The Century. Doubleday, 1998
  9. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/08/MNEJ15MCQP.DTL
  10. ^ http://www.timesrepublican.com/page/content.detail/id/514444.html?nav=5005
  11. ^ "America's Favorite Architecture". American Institute of Architects. 2007. http://favoritearchitecture.org/afa150.php. Retrieved 2009-11-03.  

Bibliography

External links


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