Table of Contents
How much does the Lincoln memorial weigh?
The Lincoln memorial is magnificent. It is spectacularly large both in design and meaning. It is also overwhelmingly large. It is HUGE.
Being made of stone, concrete, and metal it is anything but light. It is surprisingly dense, as a matter of fact. The Lincoln memorial weighs around about 76 million pounds. This is a tremendous amount as most monuments are mostly made of metal for resilience, yet this one is made of stone. This is the main reason it weighs so much.
You must also consider that the memorial needed to be anchored into the ground. If it wasn't, the wind and rain would eventually make the structure unstable. Furthermore, earthquakes (even small ones you can't quite feel) couldn't potentially do a lot of damage to the structure. Which could make it unsafe. When you are talking about structures that millions of people visit each year, safety is highly important. Could you imagine if Hoover dam wasn't anchored into the surrounding rock? I don't think it would get quite as many visitors.
When you are anchoring a structure like this into the ground, it's normally best to do so with concrete rather than just metal. The theory is, that if you drill into the ground and place in some steel rods to hold the structure down, you are only doing half a job. The rock can slip, slide, crack, and potentially damage these metal supports. To combat this, concrete is poured into the holes that have been bored into the rocks. Concrete weighs down the supports, while also filling every possible gap around them. It's the most effective way to keep the memorial in place. It also contributes to its overall weight. It is almost impossible to know just how much the supports and anchoring would weigh if included, but the answer is a lot. Concrete is not what you would call, "light".
The history of the Lincoln memorial:
The Lincoln memorial was built to honor one of America's most famous presidents. Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a major figure in the American civil war. He led the northern coalition of states against the south, in an attempt to remove slavery and injustice from the country. You could say that he succeeded, as he led America to a victory and unity that had otherwise been absent from the country. This was a difficult time in America's past when a country is as divided as they were at the time. Bringing about a sense of community and belonging can be hard. I don't think it's unfair to say that he did a rather good job. Of course, he wasn't popular with everyone, eventually, he was assassinated while watching a play by John Wilkes Booth.
The memorial was universally agreed to be a good idea. By those who loved and supported Lincoln, and even those whose ancestors had seen defeat at the hands of his leadership. Even after his death, he was and still is, a tremendously well-respected person. And president. That didn't mean that the memorial was easy to get built though. There was a huge amount of collaboration and generosity needed to get the memorial from an idea to reality. Artists, builders, sculptors, architects, laborers, and also financiers were needed. You must remember, that this was the early 1900s. Building structures of that size, and detail, was not easy. Or cheap. Stone had to be carved by hand, architects planned on paper not using CAD on a computer, and the country had just seen a costly and destructive war. (World war 1) Money wasn't easy to come by. But, despite all the setbacks, the memorial eventually did come to fruition. It was finally unveiled to the public on May 30th, 1922. A crowd of 50k gathered to see the unveiling. It has been a tremendously popular tourist destination ever since then.
There was fear that the memorial may be targeted in the wake of world war 2. Europe was in chaos, Germany was intentionally destroying culturally significant sites wherever they could. They had plans to destroy all of Paris, bombing and burning their memorial sites. This was a sad fact of life for almost every country caught up in the war. Since Germany had such a disdain for America, it was assumed that they may plan to attack memorials such as this to use as propaganda and to lower the morale of the American populace. Other monuments, such as the Statue of Liberty, were also at risk. Luckily, the Germans never finished their campaign in Europe. Never managing to defeat Britain. Japan never again launched a large scale attack on American soil after Pearl Harbor, and the memorial was safe. Along with all of the others.
Some interesting facts about the Lincoln memorial:
The memorial is not quite as exciting as its namesake. Lincoln is one of the most interesting and universally well-known politicians in public history. His undoing at the hands of John Wilkes Booth has only added to his legacy and fame. That being said, there are still some cool facts about the statue that you might be interested in learning. For example, the actual statue of Lincoln is made of marble. Which, you very likely know. If you couldn't tell just by looking at it, perhaps you've never seen marble before. What you might not have known, is that the statue is made from two different types of marble. Found in two different states. Lincoln himself is made from white marble, found in Georgia. Since this marble is the centerpiece, it was chosen to be as clean and glossy as possible. Hence the Georgia white. The seat needed to be different, darker, clearly separate from his body to make the details of the statue stand out.
Contrary to popular belief, the statue of Lincoln is not one piece of marble. Or even two, as we just discovered. There are 28 individual pieces that are slotted together to form honest Abe. The need for 28 pieces was largely due to the difficulty with which they were sculpted. And transported. It was far easier to make 28 pieces and then slot them together than to try and make the whole sculpture out of one block of stone. Imagine transporting that down the highway - is there a vehicle capable of transporting them? Probably not now, certainly not back then. Furthermore, if you were to sculpt the whole thing out of one piece of stone and were to make a mistake the entire thing would be ruined. This is pretty convenient, given that many segments of the sculpture were damaged or broken during the sculpting process.
Abraham Lincoln was a hugely significant figure in the civil rights movement. His whole war was organized on the premise of equality. That slavery was a barbaric practice that no man or woman should impress upon another. Under any circumstance. Racism was deep-rooted in that war, which is why good old honest Abe ended up dying for what he believes. Since he was such a monumentally important figure, his memorial played host to Martin Luther King, Jr. Another great man who died for his beliefs. Sadly, he died before he could see the greatness that his groundwork led to. It was fitting that Mr. King gave his speech in front of the memorial of the man who died for sharing a similar dream.
What other memorial sights are nice to visit in Washington D.C?
Washington is an awesome place to visit. If you are visiting the city as a tourist deciding which place of cultural significance to visit can be a little overwhelming. America's National Mall is a great one for this. No, not the mall you go to when you are looking to buy a new pair of jeans. The National Mall is the park that plays host to many different historical landmarks, statues, pieces of art, exhibits, and memorials. It is where you will find the Lincoln memorial. So you might as well check out all the other monuments while you are there, right?
If you have the time, visiting the White House itself cannot be recommended highly enough. Being able to see this prestigious building in person is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you won't regret. You will be thoroughly vetted before you enter, as you will be getting a sneak peek into the heart of America. There is even a chance that you might bump into the president. A small chance, and you probably won't come face to face, but it's a surreal experience nonetheless. The White House is one of the most interesting architectural works of art in modern American history. It truly is one of the most lavish and beautiful buildings in the country. If you are lucky enough to be invited to the White House, it's said that the food there is some of the best on earth. Only the most talented chefs are given the opportunity to cook for the president and his companions. They mostly cook for guests, like yourself, but they do sometimes get the honor of cooking for the president himself. Under the careful supervision of the secret service. At least you know the food will be prepared safely!
When you are visiting Washington there are a few things you won't want to forget. First, major tourist attractions are going to be packed. Keep your belongings safe. Don't sling a camera over your shoulder, don't carry too much with you, and always be vigilant of what's around you. Washington is pretty safe, but you should still be cautious. Regarding the attractions themself, you must try to book as far in advance as possible. The White House especially. If you were hoping to rock up on the day of and get given a guided tour, think again. Guided tours can be found for most attractions, not just the White House. These tours can be pretty pricey, so make sure you budget them into your plans or you might find yourself with very little money left over to feed yourself. Again, book these tours in advance. And you DO want to do the tours. Some can be a little cheesy and busy, but there are some great ones out there. Going with a tour is the best way to learn as much about the attractions as possible. The guides have a huge amount of knowledge that they are just raring to share with you.
Hopefully, you've learned a little more about this wonderful memorial. And Washington as a whole. If you get the chance to visit the memorial I implore you to do so. It is one of America's most important monuments, a shrine to one of America's most iconic heroes. Honest Abe did everything he could to leave a better future for those who came after him. It's a tragic shame that he never got to see everything that his beloved country would go on to become. America has grown into a world leader with tremendous prestige. I'm sure he would be proud. Visiting his memorial would give you the chance to learn a little more about the man who gave his life so you could enjoy the freedoms that you have today.