Unveiling the Hidden Gems of Lincoln Memorial
As part of any trip to Washington D.C., a visit to the Lincoln Memorial should be top of your agenda. This iconic monument, honoring 16th President Abraham Lincoln, boasts more than just stunning architectural design; rather it contains fascinating history with little-known facts and hidden gems just waiting to be unearthed!
Lincoln Memorial was opened at the western end of the National Mall on May 30, 1922 by architect Henry Bacon and sculptor Daniel Chester French, featuring their monumental statue of Lincoln inspired by ancient Greek temple architecture and complete with both Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address inscribed upon both sides of it.
As you explore this monument, keep an eye out for these
lesser-known facts and hidden gems:
Hands of Lincoln: Although at first glance the hands appear to rest easily upon their armrests, closer examination reveals something peculiar in how his fingers are placed. Some speculate that Lincoln may be using American Sign Language letters A & L for his initials (though this has yet to be verified); French was known to have had deaf children and was familiar with sign language.
The Lincoln Code: On the north wall of Lincoln’s monument can be found an inadvertent error from his Second Inaugural Address inscription error that reads as: Future has an E carved accidentally and later filled in to form an F, reminding visitors that even grand monuments possess flaws that should remind us all not to take anything for granted. Though barely discernible, this imperfection serves as a stark reminder that even magnificent structures contain imperfections.
The 36 Columns: The Lincoln Memorial features 36 massive Doric columns that represent each United State at the time of Lincoln’s death in 1865, each named above its respective column on a frieze above it. Take your time as you visit and try finding your state! As you stroll around it you may even spot it among all these Doric beauties!
Unbeknown to most, many don’t realize there’s a hidden chamber underneath the Lincoln Memorial that once served as intended: as a museum but now serves more as storage and maintenance area. While not open for viewing by visitors to this monument, its existence makes for fascinating facts!
On the backside of the monument, take a closer look at Lincoln’s head – some visitors claim they see what could possibly be Robert E. Lee from Confederacy! Although any potential face may or may not exist at first glance, making an observation during your visit may prove interesting and worth noting!
The Reflecting Pool: At more than 2,000 feet long and stretching over half as wide, the Reflecting Pool is an idyllic view to behold, particularly during sunrise and sunset. Not only does its picturesque surface reflect American history and heritage; its deep waters also symbolize America’s past, present, and future.
The 87 Steps: There are exactly 87 steps leading up to Lincoln’s statue chamber; this number represents how long since Independence had passed until Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address and famous opening line “four score and seven years ago…” was spoken.
The Lincoln Memorial features 48 stone wreaths to symbolize all 48 states at its dedication in 1922, paying a fitting homage to Lincoln and America during his presidency. As you admire its architecture, try finding and counting each intricate wreath which pays a lasting testament to our nationhood!
Keep a keen eye on where Abraham Lincoln is gazing when viewing him on horseback; his eyes appear to be looking straight ahead, representing his determination and unwavering commitment to serving America during his presidency; however, from a further distance it seems his eyes are focused toward Washington Monument and Capitol, showing his lasting effect on America.
The Lincoln Memorial Interior Ceiling: It features an ornate design of interlocking triangles bordered by rope-like moldings and 28 beautiful and intricate Alabama marble panels arranged coffered style – something not often noticed when viewing from below! Be sure to gaze upward and appreciate these works of art that add so much grandeur and magnificence.
Jules Guerin’s Controversial Bas-Relief: On the south wall above Gettysburg Address inscriber is Jules Guerin’s bas-relief designed as a symbolic depiction of North and South unity during the Civil War; yet critics have noted its lack of diversity, with no depictions of African American figures even though African Americans played key roles in fighting back and abolishing slavery during this period of American history. When visiting, make sure you pay special attention to this piece, its historical context and associated debate surrounding it during your visit – think twice!
Be on the lookout for these lesser-known facts to make your visit of Lincoln Memorial even more unforgettable. Don’t miss exploring this iconic monument’s rich history, architecture and symbolism that are integral parts of America’s rich heritage!