The Lincoln Memorial is a structure dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, one of the most iconic figures of American history and the 16th President of the United States.
The memorial was completed and dedicated in 1922, which makes it one of the more recent presidential memorials. The memorial has been the site of many historic events, including the famous ‘I have a dream’ speech delivered by Martin Luther King.
Plans for the construction for a memorial for President Lincoln started as early as 1868. Lincoln was assassinated only three years earlier. Congress sought the construction and design of a monument for Lincoln but sufficient funds could not be gathered and the venture met failure.
New attempts were launched for the construction of the memorial in early 20th century. By 1913, the Congress had approved the location and design of the memorial. Construction began in 1914 with funds allocated by the Congress. Some minor changes were made to the originally approved design along the way and a dedication ceremony was held at the memorial in 1922.
The architecture of the memorial borrows heavily from Ancient Greek styles. In fact, the overall look and feel of the memorial evokes the classic descriptions and architectures of ancient Greek temples. The exterior of the structure features 36 Doric columns.
The number 36 represents the total number of states at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. The columns are fairly sizable at a base diameter of 7.5 feet and a height of 44 feet. Most of the exterior features are constructed using Yule marble which gives the marble its iconic glowing-white outlook.
The interior of the Lincoln Memorial features a sizable statue of President Lincoln. In contrast to the Doric columns on the exterior, the interior features Ionic columns. In all, the interior has eight columns, four on each side of the statue.
The Ionic columns measure 5.5 feet at their base and stand 50 feet tall. The statue itself is seated, in the style of the Greek gods seated in ancient Greek temples. Together with the seat and the chamber on which the statue is styled, the structure stands 60 feet high and 60 feet wide.
The colossal structure of Lincoln is the key feature of the interior. In addition, the interior walls bear inscriptions from Lincoln’s famous speeches, including excerpts from his Gettysburg Address and his inaugural address.
Piccirilli Brothers were commissioned to sculpt the statue now placed in the Memorial. It is carved from George white marble and stands 19 feet tall from head to foot. It weighs 159 tonnes.
The Lincoln Memorial is one of the favorite pieces of architecture in America. Every year, around 7 million people visit the memorial. It has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The site gained more prominent during the Civil Rights Movement. It was the site of the famous 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At the time, Martin Luther King gave his famous speech ‘I have a Dream’ before the memorial.