Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
You walk down the mall, past the Washington Monument, then gaze at its reflection in the water, and make your way to the Greek-style temple. You climb the steps and look at the rows of columns. There are 36 of them, to represent each of the states during Lincoln's presidency.
You walk between them and are stopped in your tracks by the huge sculpture in front of you. This marble masterpiece, by Daniel Chester French, momentarily stuns you. Lincoln is seated peacefully in an armchair, his stare upon the Capitol Building in the distance, a sober statement on the need to not forget his great accomplishments for this country.
The walls around him are covered with murals, and the Gettysburg Address is etched in the stone on the south wall.
It is a very humbling experience to stand in this memorial temple.
So, even though we had just been shooting the Lincoln Monument the night before thanks to the city's determination to very powerfully light up all their key structures, we got up at dawn and caught the Metro back into The Mall area from our Rosslyn area motel. The air was cold on our faces as we raced from the Metro stop to the Monument, fearing our start was not early enough but as we neared the impressive monument, we could see our timing was pretty damn good. It was glowing and we both stopped to take a few shots before climbing its stairs to see if the great man himself was bathed in such splendid light. Gasping at the top from the racing and cold morning air, we saw not only Lincoln glowing all amber but also a janitor mopping up the floor in the foreground. Wouldn't you know it, he was black.
I was a bit dumbfounded by my good fortune but as I looked through the viewfinder, I also felt a bit ashamed at finding this image through it. What would the man who freed the slaves think if he knew that despite their freedom, black people still earn less than their white counterparts and on are on average are less educated. One does not have to look far; once you get outside of DC's core tourist area, poverty abounds, much of it in black neighborhoods.
I snapped quite a few photos none-the-less. Even the janitor periodically was in the perfect light. I am a photographer, I can't help it. But as I snapped I noticed he was not wearing a typical janitor's clothing. He was wearing the green of a National Park Ranger. Since it is a National Monument, it is manned by their staff and this was no janitor, it was a ranger. It might not be the most glamorous job and in no way is this meant to be a slight to janitors but it seemed more appropriate that in front of the monument to the man who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, a black man had a job that he might otherwise not.
Though there are many stunning buildings and monuments, the one dedicated to Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the most so. Just thinking of Martin Luther King Jr. giving his "I have a dream" speech on its steps raises the hair on my neck.
Fondest memory: I am not big on stealing motifs for photos but on paging through a library-borrowed copy of the DC edition of The Lonely Planet, I noticed a fascinating shot of the Lincoln Monument. It was taken in perfect light and in the foreground of the foreboding statue of the seated writer of the Emancipation Proclamation was a janitor mopping the floor. What made the image so powerful was that the janitor was black. Here was a monument to the man who freed the slaves and a black man doing what is generally considered one of the lower rung jobs in the United States. It was striking and I imagined how lucky this photographer was to capture it.
On my first day in DC, I oriented myself to see which buildings and monuments would be best at dawn and which at dusk, something I do quite by nature without even thinking. I love glowing light and am quite content to let the capture of it completely control my vacations. My wife is a good sport and has come to realize that as hard as it is to drag yourself out of bed early while on holiday, especially on a cold autumn morning, it really is worth it. She loves the light and even more, loves how empty places are at that hour. After all, who wants to get out of bed that early if they don't have to. Most don't and we are left with stunning vistas mostly to ourselves. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
The Lincoln Memorial, is a Greek temple put on a hill by the Potomac River. It closes the main axis of downtown Washington which goes westwards from the Capitol Hill. The temple has 36 Doric columns, one for each state at the time of Lincoln's death. I had to climb quite steep steps (there was an elevator for handicapped visitors) to see a huge sculpture by Daniel Chester French of a seated Lincoln in the center of the memorial chamber. The square interior of the memorial looks unnaturally high. Their side walls are decorated with murals and inscriptions.
The memorial is a tribute to President Abraham Lincoln, a hero of the Civil War (1861-1865) for the Northerners (Unionists) and not necessarily for the Southerners (Confederates). Well, the causes of the war, and even the name of the war itself, are still debated (see the article Naming the American Civil War).
Fondest memory: Some facts, pictures and information on the Lincon Memorial, one of the most known city landmarks, I've found in the exhibition set up upstairs on the left - do not skip it. I rather didn't like the main memorial chamber but the view towards the National Mall was great. The Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool partly hidden behind fog looked fantastic and somewhat mysteriously. The new World War II memorial put up beetween them should be completed in 2005.
More details and pictures in my Things To Do tips # 156 - 161. Start here, please.
Watch the Lincoln's statue in the Lincoln Memorial. At the West of the Mall (Subway : Foggy Bottom - Lines orange or blue)
Fondest memory: He sits on his huge harmchair and looks at the visitors.
This photograph is the evidence that The Planet of Apes is a fiction (though Lincoln was named by his ennemies : The Honest Abe).
MORE : SEE THE TRAVELOGUE
The park in front of the Lincoln Memorial, that surrounds the Reflecting Pool, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans memorial is a great place to just sit on the grass and relax in the shade - it was so hot and humid when I visited Washington D.C.!
Together with Janet we bought some soda and ice-cream in the parking lot across the drive, and we just paused to absorb what we'd seen so far... Within minutes we were surrounded by ducks and pigeons hungry for the leftovers of our chips!
Fondest memory: It was sheer relaxation, it felt like being out there in the countryside. That really was a good thing to do before we moved on to experience the powerful Vietnam Veterans Memorial...
This small exhibition to commemorate Abraham Lincoln and his message is located on the ground level (the entry is to your left as you face the Lincoln Memorial).
I almost missed it but - nosy me! - I was intrigued by a few people going in through an ordinary looking door so, curious, I followed. Be sure to visit it if you'd like to find out more about what Lincoln had to say.
Fondest memory: Lincoln's face expression - not in this photo, but in the grand statue in the Lincoln Memorial. I can't even try to describe it!
Favorite thing: Lincoln Memorial - any person in the world will recognize this place from several movies, Forrest Gump for one, JFK too, with the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument on the other end. That's also where Martin Luther King made his 'I Have a Dream' speech. And the great statue of Lincoln inside, surrounded by famous phrases of his... pretty cool.
Fondest memory: This man is almost as impressive in stone as I imagine him to be in his actual pressence. To my mind one of the most important Americans since the inception of the Constitution. He made a decision to make the country stand by the constitution it had ratified.
pay homage to one of the United States' most heroic President, Abraham Lincoln here at the LINCOLN MEMORIAL.
Strategically located at 23rd Street NW, South of Constitution Avenue, the Memorial is a moving tribute to a great American President and the nation he fought to preserve during the Civil War (the country's bloodiest conflict ever). The Memorial was actually planned as early as 1867 i.e. 2 years after Lincoln's untimely death, but it was not until 1922 when it was dedicated! On another note, statistics have shown that the Lincoln Memorial attracts an impressive 6 million (gasp!) visitors annually.
Take in the splendour of as many of the historical sites possible. The best I enjoyed was the Lincoln Memorial because of its interfacing of nature with art...its beautiful grounds and water scenery with the colossal statue of Abraham Lincoln, 28th?? president of the United States.
Fondest memory: My visit and stay at Georgetown University. The Univeristy has some of the most magnificent frescos painted in one of its older halls at which special ceremonies are held. It is reminiscent of paintings I have seen of the Sistine Chapel. (But of course, Michaelangelo is in a class of and on his own!)
A most definitely interesting place to visit when in D.C. is the Pentagon City Mall. It is a potential shoppers paradise, in my opinion, and houses so many resturaunts for the connoisseur of 'fast-foods' and other finer, extravagant cuisines. Another must-see place is the grand Smithsonian Museums, that line one of Washington's streets. Apparently, this constitutes the world's largest museum complexes, ranging from the Museum of Natural History, to the Air and Space Museum, and the most impressive National Museum of African Art... get there!
Fondest memory: Almost every square kilometre of Washington has symbolism, or significance regarding the US's history. So for instance, the colossal Monuments, beginning with the Washington Monument which is a dedication to George Washington who won the independence of the colonies from the British Empire; the Lincoln Memorial which houses a huge statue of Abraham Lincoln, who fought for the abolishment of slavery in the States, is seated within a walled-enclosure which has his famous Gettysburg Address etched in. Other monuments that hold major historical significance are the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. Then there is the well-known Arlington National Cemetery where thousands of US soldiers and troopers who fought in the 1st and 2nd World Wars, and other, are buried. To commemorate the lives of these soldiers, there is a special ceremony where tourists can also observe the 'change of gaurds'. This is also the cemetery at which President John F. Kennedy, his wife, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, and brother Senator Robert Kennedy are buried. Another most memorable, and somewhat universally significant memorial is the US Holocaust Museum. Then, most obviously not to forget, is a tour of the White House, which has three rather interesting rooms: 'the Red Room', 'the Yellow Room', and 'the Blue Room' - a must see.
I would go to the Lincoln Memorial. It was the most awesome place. It gave me chillbumps to see the statue of Lincoln. I also thought it was neat to see how his speeches were engraved on the wall. I loveed it!
Fondest memory: I liked how everything we wanted to see was right around each other. I loved looking around and seeing all these memorials everywhere.
The Lincoln Memorial is one of my favorite monuments in D.C. Not only was Lincoln a great man, his monument is really impressive (postcards don't do it justice).
There are usually lots of people hanging out around it, lazing on the steps or playing frisbee or soccer on the grass nearby.
And, of course, you all know about the Vietnam and the Korean War memorials? One to each side of the Lincoln Memorial? Those might be worth a look or two or three as well ;)
Fondest memory: Not a favorite memory but... I took this picture of a statue near the Vietnam War Memorial and entered it in the International Library of Photography contest. I got published in their book and on their website :)
The Lincoln Memorial at night is exceptionally moving, even though it was crowded with school tours. You can see the reflection of the Washington Monument in the reflecting pool in between the two monuments and it's quite breathtaking.
Fondest memory: Seeing the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is a highlight, as is the original Star Spanged Banner at the Museum of American History.