The National Mall

As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in February/March 2016, so this post may not be representative of this site today.

Brushstroke by Roy Lichtenstein

The term “National Mall” is used to refer to a landscaped park that holds a number of museums, landmarks, and monuments in downtown Washington D.C. These include the National Gallery of Art, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Smithsonian, the last of which I did not visit. The first plan for the city to include the idea of the National Mall was created by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French American military engineer who is responsible for the basic plan of the city. Its name was coined by Matthew Carey, who created a map of the city in 1802, and is inspired by the Mall in London, which was a fashionable promenade near Buckingham Palace in the 1700s.

The Smithsonian

Washington Monument

Located on the National Mall, the Washington Monument was built to commemorate George Washington, who was commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War and the first President of the United States.

It is made of granite, marble, and bluestone gneiss, and it is both the world’s tallest predominantly stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk, at 170 meters (554 feet) tall.

Work was halted halfway through construction due to lack of funds, and a difference in the tone of the marble can be seen as, upon resumption, it had to be quarried from a different source. The monument was completed in 1888.

World War II Memorial

This monument, dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during WWII, consists of 56 pillars, representing US states and territories. Its initial design was created by Austrian-American architect Friedrich St. Florian, and it finally opened on April 29, 2004. It was dedicated a month later by President George W. Bush.

The pillars are made of granite, each measuring 5.2 meters (17 feet) in height. The memorial also includes (though I missed them) two inconspicuously-placed engravings of the popular WWII meme, Kilroy was here.

Lincoln Memorial

Memorials to Lincoln have existed from as early as 1868, three years after his assassination, but it wasn’t until 1910 that a bill passed to create a permanent memorial. By 1913, a design and location had been chosen. The building is meant to resemble a classic Greek temple and makes use of Yule marble quarried in Colorado.

The design of the Abraham Lincoln statue held inside is by Daniel Chester French, and it was carved by the Piccirilli brothers (whom you may remember from the New York Public Library lions). It was carved from Georgia white marble, and was shipped in 28 pieces.

A peristyle of 36 Doric columns (one for each of the 36 states of the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death) surrounds it. Each is 13 meters (44 feet) tall, with a diameter of 2.3 meters (7.5 feet).

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