Thomas Jefferson Memorial
A beautiful monument to the third President of the United States
No city in the United States features as many top-tier museums, monuments, and cultural exhibits as Washington, D.C. If you’re a family on vacation, it’s possible to fill a week with world-class art and priceless historical objects without spending a dime on admission. Even better, you can get to virtually all of it via relatively reliable, inexpensive public transportation and short walks.
Many visitors overlook the attractive, stately Thomas Jefferson Memorial—it receives less than half the attendance of the Lincoln Memorial. Although adjacent to the National Mall, just across the Tidal Basin, its separation deters many tourists. Despite the distance, the outstanding design and relatively tranquil setting are worth the trip.
The Jefferson Memorial is an open-air, circular, domed, 165-foot-wide structure supported by a total of 54 columns. It is augmented at its main entrance by a 102-foot-wide triangular portico. While both neoclassical and charming, the design is also very similar to the Rotunda at the University of Virginia—a building designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. There may be no better method of tribute than allowing President Jefferson to indirectly design his own monument. The interior naturally features a statue of the president, in this case a 19-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Thomas Jefferson standing casually with a confident smile. The quality and detail are beautiful, as are the Thomas Jefferson quotes that adorn just about every surface.
Equally as stunning as the monument is its setting: on the shores of the Tidal Basin. The exact spot was chosen because it is in a direct line with the White House, thus completing the “four-point” plan of the National Mall—Lincoln Memorial to Capitol, White House to Jefferson Memorial, with the Washington Monument as the fulcrum. From the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, a wonderful vista appears of the basin, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the White House (through some trees), and the Washington Monument.
Touring Tips: The blooming of the cherry blossom trees that surround the Tidal Basin gives the entire area a gorgeous pink glow, although those blossoms bring the crowds with them. If you are visiting during the Cherry Blossom Festival (late March to mid-April), go earlier in the day.
Directions to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The memorial is located at 13 E Basin Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20242. The monument is open 24 hours. Park Rangers are available from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 pm. Closest Metro Station: Smithsonian which is served by the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines. Admission to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial is free. For more information on the author of the Declaration of Independence, the Statesman, Visionary, and Founding Father of our Nation visit the website of the National Park Service.
For information on all Washington D.C. memorials check out The Unofficial Guide to Washington D.C. by Eve Zibart, Renee Sklarew, and Len Testa.