The National Mall
The National Mall
An iconic symbol of freedom stands in the center of our nation’s capital: the Lincoln Memorial. This grand monument to one of our most influential presidents has been the site of countless concerts, speeches, and protests -- including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Dedicated to the Savior of the Union, the memorial and its history call to mind the human rights struggles our nation has faced, from the Civil War to the March on Washington. Today, it is overseen by the National Park Service and is part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial, situated just off of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, honors those who served in the Korean War. The memorial was commissioned by the U.S. Congress on October 28, 1986 and the design and construction of the monument was jointly managed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board and the American Battle Monuments Commission. The final design selected for the monument was created by Washington architectural firm Cooper-Lecky, following a bitter dispute that involved a government-sponsored design contest and four students from The Pennsylvania State University (see NY Times article below). The groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 14, 1992 and the memorial was dedicated on the 42nd anniversary of the end of the conflict-- July 27, 1995. The memorial is managed by the National Mall and Memorial Parks division of the National Park Service.
This memorial to the 58,272 American military personnel who perished or were declared missing in action (MIA) during the Vietnam War was completed in 1982. The wall, in addition to the Three Servicemen Statue and the Vietnam Women's Memorial, is part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The memorial demonstrates the way that public perception of monuments can change over time. The initial design for the monument at the National Mall received criticism from leading conservative politicians who hoped to create a memorial that was similar to other war monuments that depicted soldiers and military leaders. Some politicians and commentators even attacked the designer, 21-year old student May Lin, because she was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. By the time of the monument's dedication, however, most Americans approved of the monument's design. Those who saw the monument in person were moved to see the reflections of the living in the black granite wall as they reflected upon the names of the dead.
Constitution Gardens is a fifty-acre park situated near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. The gardens were established in 1976 after President Nixon ordered that a park be established on the land. The site became a separate unit of the National Park Service in 1982 and is maintained by the National Capitol Parks-Central (NACC) division.
The Lockkeeper’s House was built sometime between 1832 and 1837 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This structure, the oldest on the National Mall, was built as a home for the lockkeeper of the extension that was built onto the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal. Between 1833 and the Civil War, the canal allowed for the passage of freight along present-day Constitution Avenue. The canal was seldom used by 1870, and in the following decade, the city's engineers filled the canal with rock and soil, creating Constitution Avenue. To this day, the canal runs under Constitution Avenue serving as a closed sewer. After the abandonment of the canal, In 1902, the C&O Canal Company transferred the lockhouse to the Army Corps of Engineers who evicted an African American family who had taken up residence in the long-abandoned house. The house was converted into use for the Park Police headquarters in 1903. In around 1915 or 1916, with the widening of 17th street, the Lockkeepers house was moved around In 1940, the first floor was converted into a bathroom and the attic used for storage. It was renovated in 2017 to serve as a historical exhibit and today serves as a reminder of the historical importance of canals.
Perhaps the most iconic monument in the nation's capital, the Washington Monument honors America's first president, George Washington. The monument dates back to 1833, when the National Monument Society began raising funds for the completion of this and other monuments. The Society ran out of funds in 1856 and the monument sat unfinished until 1876, when construction resumed. The monument was completed in 1885 and the two different colors of stone demonstrate that two different quarries were used between the project's start and its eventual completion. Today, it is part of the National Park Service's National Mall and Memorial Parks.
The National Museum of African American History & Culture was authorized by Congress and President George W. Bush in 2003. After 13 years of planning and construction, the museum opened on September 24th, 2016. The museum holds over 40,000 artifacts within its vaults, most of which were donated by institutions and individuals. Several thousand of artifacts are included in the museum's twelve galleries. The museum's three-tiered form is meant to symbolize hands held in prayer and was modeled from the shape of a traditional Yoruban crown. As of November, 2016, this museum uses a timed pass system to accommodate large crowds.