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Blue streak

Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

by Katie Calvert

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial honors the author of the Declaration of Independence, the man who served as the nation’s third president.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington DCThe neoclassical memorial, with a bronze statue of Jefferson at its center and some of his most important writing etched on its walls, is located on the south side of the Tidal Basin facing the Washington Monument and the White House.
View of Washington Monument and White HouseThe Thomas Jefferson Memorial was dedicated on the bicentennial of his birth, April 13, 1943.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt thought that Thomas Jefferson deserved the same recognition afforded to Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt persuaded Congress to authorize the memorial in 1934.
Jefferson statue silhouette in the memorialYou can think of the Jefferson Memorial as another of FDR’s public works projects. Its total cost was just over $3 million.
The monument’s designer was American architect John Russell Pope. Pope, who also designed the National Gallery of Art, spent years studying in Greece, Italy, and France.
Columns at the Jefferson MemorialProponents of modern architecture criticized Pope’s design for belonging to a previous age that was European rather than American in style. It is true that Pope took inspiration for this commission from the Pantheon in Rome, but Jefferson may have appreciated that Pope also studied Jefferson’s own designs for his home at Monticello and the University of Virginia.
Statue of Thomas JeffersonDedicated during World War II when metal was allocated for the war effort, the memorial’s first statue was cast in plaster. That statue was replaced with a 5-ton bronze version in 1947. American sculptor Rudulph Evans created the 19-foot statue.
Thomas Jefferson was a true Renaissance man. In addition to being a writer, politician, and diplomat, he was an inventor, scientist, philosopher, architect, and musician.
Surrounded by trees that were gifts from Japan, the memorial to this gentleman-farmer and horticulturist is part of the picturesque scenery for the National Cherry Blossom Festival that Washington celebrates every spring.
Other Presidential Memorials in Washington include the Lincoln Memorial and Roosevelt Memorial and Washington Monument.
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