Washington DC Monuments Fun Facts

By Rogan Smith |
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Image of the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The building is slightly obscured by white flowers

Here are 10 fun facts about the Washington, DC monuments and memorials that every visitor and local should know.

It’s hard to think about the nation’s capital without thinking about these massive structures. They’re a huge part of the district’s draw and landscape.

And even though there’s a lot to do in DC, the monuments continue to top most people’s bucket list. Here are some things you may not have known.

1. The Washington Monument

Few people know this, but the Washington Monument was the very first monument to be built in the National Mall. This towering obelisk stands a little over 555′ tall and is not only iconic, but symbolic.

The monument was built to honour America’s first president, George Washington. It has 896 steps and no windows. My claustrophobia is setting in just thinking about that. The monument is very popular among tourists and welcomes more than 800,000 people each year, according to The District.

Image of the 555' white and beige Washington Monument in Washington DC
Photo by Rogan Smith/This Bahamian Gyal

2. The Washington Monument Is Two Colours

Another fun fact about the monument is that it has two colours – a white and somewhat beige colour. That’s because the monument was built in two phases.

After the money dried up, construction had to stop. Officials couldn’t match the quarry stone, so the monument ended up with two colours. – a lighter shade at the bottom and a darker shade at the top.

3. The Martin Luther King Memorial Was Made In China

Could you imagine a Made In China label on the back of one of America’s most cherished monuments? Well, you don’t have to.

The Martin Luther King Jr. statue that we have come to love and cherish was actually made in China by Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin. Yixin created the Stone of Hope, which sits at the King Memorial at the National Mall out of pink Chinese granite.

This information, when released, created a lot of controversy. Many people insulted that the project was “outsourced” to China. Others felt an American or African American should have been chosen.

Despite the controversy, the 30-foot statue is a huge draw for locals and visitors alike.

Photo of the Martin Luther King Jr stone statue in Washington, DC.
Photo/Gotta Be Worth It for Pexels

4. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Controversy

It’s no surprise that Thomas Jefferson, Americas’s third president, would get a memorial. Not only was he the author of the Declaration of Independence, but a huge advocate for religious freedom. But, his memorial wasn’t without controversy.

Critics felt the site was too grand for a man as humble as Jefferson.

Firstly, the memorial that we have come to know and love today was originally intended for President Theodore Roosevelt. However, President Franklin Roosevelt admired Jefferson so much, that he used his political power to secure the site for the founding father.

5. Thomas Jefferson’s Original Statue Was Made Of Plaster

Due to a bronze shortage during World War II, officials placed a plaster statue of Thomas Jefferson in his memorial. But, in 1947, they replaced it with a 19-foot bronze statue.

Photo of tourists sightseeing at the Lincoln Memorial. You can see the length of the National Mall
Photo by Rogan Smith/This Bahamian Gyal

6. The National Mall Is Two Miles Long

If you’re going to tour the National Mall, especially in the summer, bring lots of cold water, a wide-brimmed hat and the most comfortable shoes you can find.

The National Mall is two miles long and stretches from the Lincoln Memorial on the west end to the US Capitol on the east end.

Statue of President Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
Photo by Rogan Smith/This Bahamian Gyal

7. The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial, which honours America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln is massive. How massive? It’s 80 feet tall and 188 feet long. It has 36 columns that represent each of the states in the Union during the Civil War.

It’s also the place where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his, “I Have A Dream” speech on August 28, 1963.

8. The World War II Memorial Was Designed By An Austrian

If you’ve ever visited the World War II memorial and loved the way it looked, you can thank Friedrich St. Florian.

St. Florian was born in the Austrian city of Graz, but later moved to the US and became naturalised citizen. Today, his work is immortalised for millions of people to see at the National Mall.

Architects from all over the US submitted 400 designs for the memorial. But, it was St. Florian’s design that ultimately won.

Stone image of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC
Photo by Rogan Smith/This Bahamian Gyal

9. Foreign-Born Troops Fought In World War II

Not many people know this, but many foreign-born troops fought in World War II. In fact, historians say they played a huge role in America winning the war.

During World War II, it wasn’t uncommon for those foreign-born troops to get their citizenship fast-tracked.

Image of the World War II memorial Washington DC. The word Washington is engraved in stone.
Photo by Rogan Smith/This Bahamian Gyal

10. The Lincoln Memorial Is On US Currency

If you have a US $5 bill, pull it out now. The Lincoln Memorial is on the back of the bill. Abraham Lincoln’s portrait is on the front, and on the back, his beautiful memorial.

The memorial was also featured on the US penny from 1959 to 2008. If you have an old penny, you’ll see Lincoln’s face on one side and his memorial on the other.

Be sure to watch my video down below. In it, I tour a few of the Washington, DC monuments and give a bit of history.

XOXO,

This Bahamian Gyal

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