Interesting facts about the Lincoln Memorial

lincoln memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

The monument is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Lincoln Memorial was designed by Henry Bacon.

The Lincoln Memorial construction took place between 1914 and 1922.

The building is in the form of a Greek Doric temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln.

The monument measures 57.8 by 36.1 meters (189.7 by 118.5 feet) and is 30 meters (99 feet) tall.


It has 36 columns represent the states in the union at the time of Lincoln’s death. The columns stand 13 meters (44 feet) tall with a base diameter of 2.3 meters (7.5 feet).

Daniel Chester French designed the statue of America’s 16th Presidentwhich was produced by a family of Tuscan marble carvers known as the Piccirilli Brothers.

The statue is composed of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble and rises 9.1 meters (30 feet) from the floor, including the 5.8-meter (19-foot) seated figure (with armchair and footrest) upon an 3.4-meter (11-foot) high pedestal. The statue weighs 159 metric tons (175 US tons).

lincoln memorial statue

Lincoln’s arms rest on representations of Roman fasces, a subtle touch that associates the statue with the Augustan (and imperial) theme (obelisk and funerary monuments) of the Washington Mall.

Directly behind the Lincoln statue you can read the words of Royal Cortissoz carved into the wall: “IN THIS TEMPLE AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.”

lincoln statue

In addition to the inscription behind the Lincoln Statue, two of Lincolns most famous speeches are inscribed on the north and south walls of the Lincoln memorial.

Above each of the Lincoln Memorial Inscriptions is a 18.3-by-3.7-meter (60-by-12-foot) mural painted by Jules Guerin graphically portraying governing principles evident in Lincoln’s life. On the south wall mural, Freedom, Liberty, Immortality, Justice, and the Law are pictured, while the north wall portrays Unity, Fraternity, and Charity.

lincoln memorial murals

The ceiling of the Memorial, 18 meters (60 feet) above the floor, is composed of bronze girders, ornamented with laurel and oak leaves.

The exterior is Colorado white marble, interior walls and columns Indiana limestone, sculpture Georgia white marble, chamber floor Tennessee pink marble, and skylights Alabama marble.

There are 58 steps from the chamber to the plaza level, and 87 steps from the chamber to the reflecting pool.


Under the Lincoln Memorial is a massive, darkened basement where steel-reinforced concrete columns are decorated with construction workers’ 90-year-old graffiti — Mutt and Jeff here, a man smoking a pipe there. Stalactites once formed by the hundreds inside. The National Park Service used to give tours, but no longer. “It was never designed for people’s safety,” explained the Park Service’s Stephen Lorenzetti, chief of resource management for the area that includes the memorial.

A legend is that Lincoln is shown using sign language to represent his initials, with his left hand shaped to form an “A” and his right hand to form an “L“. The National Park Service denies both stories, calling them urban legends.


Some have claimed that the face of General Robert E. Lee was carved onto the back of Lincoln’s head, and looks back across the Potomac toward his former home, Arlington House, now within the bounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

There’s a ‘typo’ on the Lincoln Memorial. The full texts of The Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address were hand-carved, and the engraver accidentally inscribed the word EUTURE instead of FUTURE on the north wall. The base line of the E was filled in, but the repair is obvious to the naked eye.

The statue, originally intended to be only 3 meters (10 feet) tall. However, it was revised to 5.8 meters (19 feet) by the time of construction.

The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, during the rally at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

march on washington in 1963

From 1959 to 2008, the Lincoln Memorial was shown on the reverse of the United States one cent coin, which bears Lincoln’s portrait bust on the front. The statue of Lincoln can be seen in the monument. This was done to mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

The memorial also appears on the back of the U.S. five dollar bill, the front of which bears Lincoln’s portrait.

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most beloved American monuments.

It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since October 15, 1966.

In 2007, it was ranked seventh on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

Approximately 6 million people visit the memorial annually.

It is open to the public 24 hours a day.