Thursday, May 28, 2015

10 fun facts about the Jefferson Memorial you might not know

The Jefferson Memorial is a quite prominent monument on the National Mall, probably one of the most recognized landmarks. 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Washington DC in the spring
Jefferson Memorial with cherry blossom reflections
Surprisingly, this monument is not as old as you might think. The memorial was commissioned by Congress in 1934. One unique aspect of this monument is that its design is influenced by Thomas Jefferson's personal tastes. (Did you know Jefferson was passionate about design and an architect in his own right?)

According to the National Park Service (NPS), it "echoes" Jefferson's own designs, Monticello (his home in Charlottesville) and the University of Virginia Rotunda. The Jefferson Memorial's style is Classical Revival and is based on the Pantheon in Rome.

Want to know more? Here are 10 additional fun facts about the Jefferson Memorial you may or may not know.

Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin in Washington DC
View of the Jefferson Memorial from atop the Washington Monument with Virginia in the background

10 fun facts about the Jefferson Memorial

1. The Jefferson Memorial was built by John Russell Pope. Pope passed away in 1937 in the midst of the project. The monument was finished by Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers with some modifications in its design, notes NPS. The memorial's cornerstone was laid in 1939.

2. The statue of Jefferson in the center of the memorial stands 19 feet tall and weighs 5 tons. It was designed by Rudolph Evans.

Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC
The statue of Thomas Jefferson inside of the memorial is impressive

3. The original statue was made of plaster but was updated after the end of World War II. At that time, the statue was renovated and reconstructed in bronze. 

4. The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on a very fitting April 13, 1943. Why this date? On this day, Jefferson would have been 200 years old.

5. This monument stands on the southern end of the National Mall and is placed in a direct line of the White House.
6. The dome of the Jefferson Memorial is 165 feet in diameter and contains 26 pillars.

7. There were a couple of controversies surrounding the building of this monument. One was the actual design being criticized which resulted in some modifications as noted in fact #1. The second was the removal of some of the iconic cherry blossom trees, which were gifted to the United States in 1912. 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Washington DC
Today there are still many cherry trees to be found all around the Tidal Basin, but at the time of build, the removal of some trees was a big controversy.

8. Overall, the cost to build the Jefferson Memorial would turn out to be more than $3 million.

9. Marble from four different states was used in the Jefferson Memorial's construction. The marble came from Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, and Vermont. 

10. About 2 million visitors stop by the Jefferson Memorial each year. This memorial is open 24 hours a day, with a Park Ranger available to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

While well-known, the Jefferson Memorial does physically stand a bit away from many of the other monuments. Because the memorial is situated along a very busy road, it's not the easiest of monuments to walk to like those in the center of the mall, but there are a couple of good routes to get you there (the path along the Tidal Basin is a really nice walk).

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed these fun facts. If you are looking for more fun facts about the many Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia landmarks, such as the White House, I invite you to use the search feature to the right of this blog post. 

Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin at sunrise
Jefferson Memorial at sunrise (March 2017)


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks very much Michelle. Also thanks for visiting!

  2. very interesting and good for school!!!

    1. Thanks for reading and for your kind words. Glad it helps!

  3. very interesting and good for school!!!

  4. Thanks for this very convenient info!!

    1. I hope it helped! Thanks so much for visiting my blog

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, very appreciated!