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« Knocking out the Monuments: FDR Memorial | Main | Knocking out the Monuments: Washington Monument »
Wednesday
Oct072009

Knocking out the Monuments: Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Tree Blossoms & Jefferson Memorial

As we continue along our tour, we loop around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. If you are making this walk in early spring, you might get a great shot of the Memorial nicely framed by the famous cherry trees of Washington, like the one above. Of course, you better be quick on the draw, because if you are here during peak cherry blossom season, you're likely to be trampled by hordes of other photographers trying for the same shot if you stop too long.

Those cherry trees for the basis for the story of the initial controversy surrounding the location of the Memorial. In order to build it, fifty or so of the trees would have to be bulldozed. The publisher of the Washington Times-Herald, Cissy Paterson, combined her love of the trees with her raw disgust at the administration of Franklin Roosevelt and organized a protest of several of the high society ladies of Washington, DC. As told by David Brinkley in Washington Goes to War:

Some of them tried to stop the construction by chaining themselves to the trees and defying the bulldozers. Michael Strauss, assistant secretary of the interior, countered by serving them lunch, with cup after cup of coffee until the women had to unlock their chains and leave for the rest rooms. When they did, the bulldozers moved in, and Jefferson was duly memorialized.
So, as you can see, the story of bathrooms IS the story of Washington. Or at least of the Jefferson Memorial.

Of all the Presidential Memorials, I think Jefferson falls the flattest. For the incredible complexity of the man, it captures little of it. It's simply a statue of him, inside a knock off of a Roman temple. Really, the highlight for me is the view from the front steps of the Memorial towards the White House. But if you're walking by, stop in and say hi to Tom.

The Memorial is open 24 hours a day, with Rangers available to yell at your kids from 9:30 am until 11:30 pm. Seriously though, Park Service Rangers, while occasionally ill-tempered, are almost uniformly knowledgeable about these sites. If you can get a conversation going with one of them, it can be quite rewarding. Many of them genuinely love being there and are happy to share it with you. And if you get a surly one, let it go, and let's move on to the FDR Memorial.

photo by cliff1066™'s

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