On this day in 1922, the Lincoln memorial was officially dedicated and opened to the public.
The massive Greek Revival structure erected in honor of the 16th President located near the National Mall in Washington D.C is a popular tourist site in addition to serving as a site of historical significance. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the memorial on August 28, 1963. Various rallies and protests have also been held on these hallowed steps.
Three years after President Lincoln was assassinated, Irish-American sculptor Lot Flannery was commissioned to create the first public memorial to Abraham Lincoln for the District of Columbia’s City Hall. Many of Lincoln’s most loyal supporters, however, felt that the statue was not enough to honor the fallen beloved leader.
Although various congressmen over the years attempted to propose bills for a new memorial commission, funding and public interest for the project was insufficient at the time.
Finally, on December 13th 1910, the Lincoln Memorial Commission bill passed.
Architect Henry Bacon was chosen as the chief designer. His Greek Revival design mimicked a temple, which many criticized as elevating the humble president to a god-like position. After much debate, the memorial finally went under construction on February 12, 1914, Lincoln’s birthday.
The sculptor, Daniel Chester French originally planned for the president to sit at 10 feet tall, but later enlarged his designs to 19 feet to accommodate the massive scale of the housing structure Bacon had built.
Finally on May 30, 1922, President Warren G. Harding dedicated the memorial in a public ceremony. Lincoln’s 78-year-old son Robert Todd Lincoln was present at the ceremony.
Today, as the beautiful structure stands overlooking a pensive reflecting pond, tourists and history enthusiasts alike pay their respects to the president who held the reigns during our most challenging time as a nation..