This monument is one of my favorites in the US capitol. It's located on the National Mall across from the Washington Monument. The exterior is in the form of a Doric temple, which explains somewhat my partiality. In 2007 it was reportedly ranked seventh on the List of America's Favorite Architecture, so I'm clearly not alone. Inside, Lincoln's two most famous speeches are inscribed on the walls, including the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. It's one of the most recognizable structures in the city, as many famous speeches and events have been held here, including Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered in August, 1963. The site is administered by the National Park Service. There was some recent drama here during the government shutdown when people were being denied access. The monument is typically open 24 hours a day, so it's unclear why it was blocked off at that time (well, not really!).
The first public memorial to Lincoln in DC was a statue set up in front of City Hall in 1868, three years after his death, and measures were passed as early as 1867 for a more grand monument, but only with the passage of bills in the early 20th century did things get underway. The Lincoln Memorial Commission had its first meeting in 1911, and Congress approved the design and location in 1913. Not surprisingly, there was some controversy, as some thought that the plan was too ostentatious for a man of Lincoln's character, and preferred a simple log cabin shrine, while others thought that the location was too swampy, as the proposed site was located on a parcel of reclaimed land. The project finally got underway on February 12, 1914, and continued until it was finally dedicated on May 30, 1922. Lincoln's only surviving son, then-79-year-old Robert, was in attendance (cool!). The statue of Lincoln stands almost 20 feet, and it's made of Georgia white marble. It weighs an estimated 160 tons and was shipped in 28 pieces. One of the more curious stories about the statue is that the position of the hands form an "A" and "L" in American Sign Language, as the sculptor Daniel Chester French intended to portray the initials, and was familiar with the system as he had a deaf son. Some have stated that French did it to pay tribute to Lincoln for signing federal legislation granting Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf, the authority to grant college degrees. The site is perhaps most famous for King's speech, where an estimated quarter of a million people assembled. The site is now marked with an inscription. Some six million visitors come to the monument annually.
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