Lincoln Memorial

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Lincoln Memorial
Aerial view of Lincoln Memorial - east side EDIT.jpeg
Aerial View (2010)
Lincoln Memorial is located in Central Washington, D.C.
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial is located in the District of Columbia
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial is located in the US
Lincoln Memorial
Location West End of National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°53′21.5″N 77°3′0.4″W / 38.889306°N 77.050111°W / 38.889306; -77.050111Coordinates: 38°53′21.5″N 77°3′0.4″W / 38.889306°N 77.050111°W / 38.889306; -77.050111
Area 27,336 square feet (2,539.6 m2)
Built 1914–1922
Architect Henry Bacon (architect)
Daniel Chester French (sculptor)
Architectural style Greek Revival[1]
Visitation 6,546,518 (2013)
Website Lincoln Memorial
NRHP Reference # 66000030[1]
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Future site of the Memorial, c. 1912
President Warren G. Harding speaking at the dedication, 1922

The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. The architect was Henry Bacon; the designer of the primary statue – Abraham Lincoln, 1920 – was Daniel Chester French; the Lincoln statue was carved by the Piccirilli Brothers;[2] and the painter of the interior murals was Jules Guerin. Dedicated in 1922, it is one of several monuments built to honor an American president. It has always been a major tourist attraction and since the 1930s has been a symbolic center focused on race relations.

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 Gettysburg Address" and his Second Inaugural Address. The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King Jr.'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. Since 2010, approximately 6 million people visit the memorial annually.[3]

History[edit]

The first public memorial to Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., was a statue by Lot Flannery erected in front of the District of Columbia City Hall in 1868, three years after Lincoln's assassination.[4][5] Demands for a fitting national memorial had been voiced since the time of Lincoln's death. In 1867, Congress passed the first of many bills incorporating a commission to erect a monument for the sixteenth president. An American sculptor, Clark Mills, was chosen to design the monument. His plans reflected the nationalistic spirit of the time, and 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 Abraham Lincoln. Subscriptions for the project were insufficient.[6]

The matter lay dormant until the start of the 20th century, when, under the leadership of Senator Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois, six separate bills were introduced in Congress for the incorporation of a new memorial commission. The first five bills, proposed in the years 1901, 1902, and 1908, met with defeat because of opposition from Speaker Joe Cannon. The sixth bill (Senate Bill 9449), introduced on December 13, 1910, passed. The Lincoln Memorial Commission had its first meeting the following year and U.S. President William H. Taft was chosen as the commission's president. Progress continued at a steady pace and by 1913 Congress had approved of the Commission's choice of design and location.[6]

There were questions regarding the commission's plan. 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, feeling that the Potomac Park location, situated on the Washington Monument-Capitol axis, overlooking the Potomac River and surrounded by open land, was ideal. 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.[6][7]

With Congressional approval and a $300,000 allocation, the project got underway. On February 12, 1914, a dedication ceremony was conducted and the following month the actual construction began. Work progressed steadily according to schedule. Some changes were made to the plan. The statue of Lincoln, originally designed to be 10 feet (3.0 m) tall, was enlarged to 19 feet (5.8 m) to prevent it from being overwhelmed by the 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. Commission president William H. Taft – who was then Chief Justice of the United States – dedicated the Memorial on May 30, 1922 and presented it to President Warren G. Harding, who accepted it on behalf of the American people. Lincoln's only surviving son, 78-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln, was in attendance.[8]

The Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.[9]

Exterior[edit]

The exterior of the Memorial echoes a classic Greek temple and features Yule marble from Colorado. 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 36 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 facades, are inclined slightly toward the building's interior. This is to compensate for perspective distortions which would otherwise make the memorial appear to bulge out at the top when compared with the bottom, a common feature of Ancient Greek architecture.[10]

Detail of the Memorial's friezes

Above the colonnade, inscribed on the frieze, are the names of the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln's death and the dates in which they entered the Union.[Note 1] 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.[10]

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.[10]

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[10] by the Piccirilli Brothers.[11]

Interior[edit]

The Memorial's interior is divided into three chambers by two rows of four Ionic columns, each 50 feet (15 m) tall and 5.5 feet (1.7 m) across at their base. The central chamber, housing the statue of Lincoln, is 60 feet wide, 74 feet deep, and 60 feet high.[12] The north and south chambers display carved inscriptions of Lincoln's second inaugural address and his Gettysburg Address.[Note 2] Bordering these inscriptions are pilasters ornamented with fasces, eagles, and wreaths. The inscriptions and adjoining ornamentation are by Evelyn Beatrice Longman.[10]

The Memorial is replete with symbolic elements. The 36 columns represent the states of the Union at the time of Lincoln's death; the 48 stone festoons above the columns represent the 48 states in 1922. Inside, each inscription is surmounted by a 60-by-12-foot (18.3 by 3.7 m) mural by Jules Guerin portraying principles seen as evident in Lincoln's life: Freedom, Liberty, Immortality, Justice, and the Law on the south wall; Unity, Fraternity, and Charity on the north. Cypress trees, representing Eternity, are in the murals' backgrounds. The murals' paint incorporated kerosene and wax to protect the exposed artwork from fluctuations in temperature and moisture.[13]

The ceiling consists of bronze girders ornamented with laurel and oak leaves. Between these are panels of Alabama marble, saturated with paraffin to increase translucency. But feeling that the statue required even more light, Bacon and French designed metal slats for the ceiling to conceal floodlights, which could be modulated to supplement the natural light; this modification was installed in 1929. The one major alteration since was the addition of a handicapped elevator in the 1970s.[13]

Statue[edit]

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

Epitaph by Royal Cortissoz

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 widest span of the statue corresponds to its height. Of Georgia white marble, it weighs 175 short tons (159 t) and was shipped in twenty-eight pieces.[13]

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. Lincoln's arms rest on representations of Roman fasces, a subtle touch that associates the statue with the Augustan (and imperial) theme (obelisk and funerary monuments) of the Washington Mall.[14] The statue is discretely bordered by two pilasters, one on each side. Between these pilasters, and above Lincoln's head, is engraved an epitaph of Lincoln[13] by Royal Cortissoz.[15]

Sculptural features[edit]

The sculpture has been at the center of two urban legends. Some have claimed that the face of General Robert E. Lee was carved onto the back of Lincoln's head,[16] and looks back across the Potomac toward his former home, Arlington House, now within the bounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Another popular legend is that Lincoln is shown using sign language to represent his initials, with his left hand shaped to form an "A" and his right hand to form an "L", the president's initials. The National Park Service denies both legends.[16]

The March on Washington in 1963 brought 250,000 people to the National Mall and is famous for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
The location on the steps where King delivered the speech is commemorated with this inscription.

However, historian Gerald Prokopowicz writes that, while it is not clear that sculptor Daniel Chester French intended Lincoln's hands to be formed into sign language versions of his initials, it is possible that French did intend it, because he was familiar with American Sign Language, and he would have had a reason to do so, that is, to pay tribute to Lincoln for having signed the federal legislation giving Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf, the authority to grant college degrees.[17] The National Geographic Society's publication, "Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C." states that Daniel Chester French had a son who was deaf and that the sculptor was familiar with sign language.[18][19] Historian James A. Percoco has observed that, although there are no extant documents showing that French had Lincoln's hands carved to represent the letters "A" and "L" in American Sign Language, "I think you can conclude that it's reasonable to have that kind of summation about the hands."[20]

Sacred space[edit]

As Sandage (1993) demonstrates, the Memorial has become a symbolically sacred venue especially for the Civil Rights Movement. 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 D. 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 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 historic speech, "I Have a Dream", before the memorial honoring the president who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation 100 years earlier. King's speech, with its language of patriotism and its evocation of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, was meant to match the symbolism of the Lincoln Memorial as a monument to national unity.[21] 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.[22] Twenty years later, 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.

Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool
At sunrise
During the day
At dusk

At the memorial on May 9, 1970, President Richard Nixon had a middle-of-the-night impromptu, brief meeting with protesters who, just days after the Kent State shootings, were preparing to march against the Vietnam War.

Vandalism[edit]

In September 1962, vandals painted the words "nigger lover" in foot-high pink letters on the rear wall.[23]

On the morning of July 26, 2013, the memorial was shut down after the statue's base and legs were splashed with green paint.[24] It reopened later that day.[25] A 58-year-old Chinese national, Jiamei Tian, was later found responsible for the vandalism. Following her arrest at the Washington National Cathedral, she was admitted to St. Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatric facility, and was later found to be incompetent to stand trial; she has since been released from the hospital.[26]

In popular culture[edit]

As one of the most prominent American monuments, the Lincoln Memorial is often featured in books, films, and television shows that take place in Washington; by 2003 it had appeared in over 60 films,[27] and in 2009, Mark S. Reinhart compiled some short sketches of dozens of uses of the Memorial in film and television.[28]

Some examples of films include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in a key scene where the statue and its inscription provide inspiration to freshman Senator Jefferson Smith, played by James Stewart[29] – the Park Service did not want director Frank Capra to film at the Memorial, so he sent a large crew elsewhere as a distraction while a smaller crew filmed Stewart and Jean Arthur at the Memorial;[30] The Day the Earth Stood Still, a science fiction film in which the alien Klaatu visits the Memorial and is impressed by Lincoln's words carved there; the 2001 version of Planet of the Apes; X-Men: First Class; the 2011 film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, where Megatron destroys the statue of Lincoln and then sits on the chair as a throne;[31] and the 2016 horror movie The Purge: Election Year, in which the Lincoln Memorial is shown with dead and burning bodies on the steps and the columns defaced with giant letters that spell out "PURGE", written in human blood.[32]

Other films and television programs which have featured the Memorial include In the Line of Fire; National Treasure, in which the main characters discuss the possibility of stealing the Declaration of Independence while sitting on the steps of the Memorial; the comedy Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, where the statue of Lincoln helps defeat the Horus warriors; the "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington" episode of The Simpsons;[33] the scene from Forrest Gump, in which Forrest (Tom Hanks) delivers a speech standing on a podium in front of the Memorial facing the reflecting pool; and the 2013 film White House Down, in which the President (Jamie Foxx) requests a fly-by of the Lincoln Memorial, at both the beginning and the end of the movie to pay homage to his hero.[29]

Many of the appearances of the Lincoln Memorial are actually digital visual effects, due to restrictive filming rules.[33] As of 2017, according to the National Park Service, "Filming/photography is prohibited above the white marble steps and the interior chamber of the Lincoln Memorial."[34]

Mitchell Newton-Matza argued in 2016, "Reflecting its cherished place in the hearts of Americans, the Lincoln Memorial has often been featured prominently in popular culture, especially motion pictures."[35] According to Tracey Gold Bennett, "The majesty of the Lincoln Memorial is a big draw for film location scouts, producers, and directors because this landmark has appeared in a considerable number of films."[36]

Jay Sacher writes:

From high to low, the memorial is cultural shorthand for both American ideals and 1960s radicalism. From Forrest Gump's Zelig-like insertion into anti-war rallies on the steps of the memorial, to the villainous Decepticon robots discarding the Lincoln statue and claiming it as a throne....The memorial's place in the culture is assured even as it is parodied.[33]

Reverse of a 2003 United States five-dollar bill and 2006 Lincoln cent

Depictions on U.S. currency[edit]

From 1959 (the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth) to 2008, the memorial, with statue visible through the columns, was depicted on the reverse of the United States one cent coin, which bears a bust of Lincoln on its front.

The memorial has appeared on the back of the U.S. five dollar bill since 1929. The front of the bill bears Lincoln's portrait.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Second Inauguration mistake in Lincoln Memorial cropped.jpg

Informational notes

  1. ^ The date for Ohio was incorrectly entered as 1802, as opposed to the correct year, 1803.
  2. ^ In the line from the second inaugural, "With high hope for the future," the F in FUTURE was carved as an E. To obscure this error the spurious bottom line of the E is not painted in with black paint.

Citations

  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Lincoln Memorial National Memorial; Washington, DC National Park Service
  3. ^ "Annual Park Recreation Visitation (1904 - Last Calendar Year)" National Park Service
  4. ^ "Renovation and Expansion of the Historic DC Courthouse" (PDF). DC Court of Appeals. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Washington’s Lincoln: The First Monument to the Martyred President". The Intowner. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c NRHP Nomination, p. 4
  7. ^ Thomas, Christopher A. (2002) The Lincoln Memorial and American Life Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 069101194X
  8. ^ NRHP Nomination, p. 5
  9. ^ NRHP Nomination, p. 6
  10. ^ a b c d e NRHP Nomination, p. 2
  11. ^ Concklin, Edward F. (1927) The Lincoln Memorial, Washington. United States Government Printing Office
  12. ^ U. S. Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks. Lincoln Memorial Building Statistics
  13. ^ a b c d NRHP Nomination, p. 3
  14. ^ See Buchner, Edmund (1976). "Solarium Augusti und Ara Pacis", Römische Mitteilungen 83: 319–375; (1988). Die Sonnenuhr des Augustus: Kaiser Augustus und die verlorene Republik (Berlin); P. Zanker The Augustan Program of Cultural Renewal for a full discussion of the Augustan solarium and its architectural features.
  15. ^ "Lincoln Memorial Design Individuals". National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  16. ^ a b "Lincoln Memorial: Frequently Asked Questions" on the National Park Service website
  17. ^ Prokopowicz, Gerald J. (2008) Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln. Pantheon. ISBN 978-0-375-42541-7
  18. ^ Evelyn, Douglas E. and Dickson, Paul A. (1999) On this Spot: Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C. National Geographic Society. ISBN 0-7922-7499-7
  19. ^ Library.gallaudet.edu Archived 2009-01-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Percoco, James A., speech given on April 17, 2008, in the Jefferson Room of the National Archives and Records Administration as part of the National Archive's "Noontime Programs" lecture series. Broadcast on the C-Span cable television network on April 4 and April 5, 2009. c-spanvideo.org
  21. ^ Fairclough, Adam (1997) "Civil Rights and the Lincoln Memorial: The Censored Speeches of Robert R. Moton (1922) and John Lewis (1963)" Journal of Negro History v.82 pp.408–416.
  22. ^ Jennings, Peter and Brewster, Todd (1998) The Century: A Chronicle of the 20th Century Doubleday.
  23. ^ "Vandals Deface Lincoln Memorial" Ocala Star-Banner (September 27, 1962)
  24. ^ Fard, Maggie Fazeli; Ruane, Michael E. (July 26, 2013). "Lincoln Memorial is shut down after vandals splash paint on it". Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  25. ^ CNN Staff (July 26, 2013). "Vandals splatter Lincoln Memorial with green paint". CNN. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  26. ^ Alexander, Keith L. (January 6, 2015) "Case dismissed against woman accused of throwing green paint on D.C. landmarks" Washington Post
  27. ^ Rosales, Jean K. and Jose, Michael R. (2003) DC Goes to the Movies: A Unique Guide to Reel Washington iUniverse. p.149 ISBN 9780595267972
  28. ^ Mark S. Reinhart (2009). Abraham Lincoln on Screen: Fictional and Documentary Portrayals on Film and Television. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5261-3. 
  29. ^ a b Toney, Veronica (September 17, 2015). "It’s not just ‘Forrest Gump.’ The National Mall has had an iconic role in many movies.". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  30. ^ Rosales, Jean K. and Jose, Michael R. (2003) DC Goes to the Movies: A Unique Guide to Reel Washington iUniverse. p.245 ISBN 9780595267972
  31. ^ Staff (July 26, 2013). "Lincoln Memorial’s role in U.S. history, pop culture". Washington Post. Retrieved February 11, 2017. 
  32. ^ Kim, Kristen Yoonsoo (June 30, 2016) "'The Purge: Election Year' Hits the Upgrade Button in Literally Every Way" Complex: Pop Culture"
  33. ^ a b c Sacher, Jay (May 6, 2014). Lincoln Memorial: The Story and Design of an American Monument. Chronicle Books. pp. 83–85. ISBN 9781452131986. Retrieved February 12, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Permit FAQS" National Park Service
  35. ^ Mitchell Newton-Matza (2016). Historic Sites and Landmarks that Shaped America. ABC-CLIO. p. 324. 
  36. ^ Tracey Gold Bennett (2014). Washington, D.C., Film and Television. Arcadia. p. 27. 

Bibliography

External links[edit]

External video
Lincoln Memorial in June 2012.jpg
Laser Scan: Lincoln Memorial (0:33), DJS Associates from the Lincoln Memorial Project