Deciphering DC: Presidential Memorials

2017-03-26 15.47.11
Jefferson Memorial (Most Photogenic)

What is the most obscure Presidential Memorial in DC?

Most Obscure: James Buchanan Memorial
For my money, I’m going with James Buchanan because the statue does not sit in a prominent locale (like on The National Mall). In addition, it’s not memorable in comparison to many of the other memorials. Where it sits off to the side in Meridian Hill Park, it cannot even claim to be the best statue in that park (go with Joan of Arc or Dante).

Most Imposing: Lincoln Memorial
The Greek-style building is impressive and the statue is 19 feet high! See some facts about the facade here.

Best for Hiking: Theodore Roosevelt Island
A fantastic spot to get away from the traffic and noise and hike over 2-1/2 miles along the aptly named Swamp, Woods and Upland Trails. The statue and the condition of its surrounding Memorial Plaza reminds one of finding Teddy alone out in the Amazon jungle. (Read The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey – it is excellent.)

Best Concept: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
This is my favorite memorial in DC. The strolling path lined with waterfalls and statues and quotes is brilliantly designed. I discover something new each time. And Fala. Always Fala the Dog.

Most Overlooked: James A. Garfield Monument
This one sits in front of the Capitol Building in the middle of the Garfield Circle. I bet you didn’t even bother to go look at it!

Least Necessary: James A. Garfield Monument
Considering Garfield only served four months as the President, he hardly had a worthy track record to be memorialized. His statue exists because the Society of the Army of the Cumberland (he had been a member) commissioned the statue and raised the funds to build it in 1884. A time when his assassination by Charles Guiteau in 1881 was still fresh in people’s memories.

Most Useful: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Obviously, as the only living memorial, the Kennedy Center is a brilliant place for live theater, opera, concerts and other shows.

Best for Smart People: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Best Use of a Dome: Jefferson Memorial

Most in Need to Hurry Up and Start Construction Already: Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
It’s been years since I last heard about the progress on this memorial.

Most Photogenic: Jefferson Memorial
Caveat; when the cherry trees blossom along the Tidal Basin. The Washington Monument is a close second.

Least Likely to Win a Washington Nationals President’s Race in 2017: Teddy with zero wins!

Most in Need of a New Name: Trump International Hotel

If someone has a contrarian take or wants to add to the list, feel free to comment!

Until next time.

Note: It’s true, this list did not include every Presidential Memorial in DC.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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