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Fun Facts about the Lincoln Memorial

September 7th, 2010

The memorial to our nation’s 16th president is one of the most popular attractions in Washington, DC. More than 24 million visitors make the trip to greet Abraham Lincoln each year. The next time you make a visit to our nation’s capitol, here are some fun and little known facts that will make the Lincoln Memorial even more interesting:

  • The 58 steps of the Lincoln Memorial sit 1.9 miles directly west of the United States Capitol. 2 of these steps represent the 2 terms of office Abe Lincoln served as President and the remaining 56 steps represent Lincoln’s age when he was assassinated.
  • There are 87 total steps from the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial which is equal to “fourscore and seven years” from Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.
  • There is a typo in Lincoln’s second inaugural address carved into the wall on the right wall of the memorial. Look closely for the word “FUTURE” that was originally carved as “EUTURE.” It would have been too expensive to re-carve the entire wall so the mistake was simply filled in but is still noticeable.
  • Urban legend has it that Abe Lincoln’s hands are positioned to form the letters “A” and “L” in American Sign Language to represent Lincoln’s initials. Many believe this to be intentional and not simply a coincidence to pay tribute to Lincoln for signing federal legislation that gave Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf, the authority to grant college degrees. The sculptor, Daniel Chester French, was also familiar with sign language because he had a son who was deaf.
  • A second urban legend claims that the face of Robert E. Lee was carved into the back of Lincoln’s head looking in the direction of his former home, the Arlington House, across the Potomac River within Arlington National Cemetery. Don’t forget to stroll around the outside to the backside of the memorial for a fantastic view overlooking Rosslyn and Arlington Virginia where you have a clear view of the Arlington House.

If you ever have a chance to visit the Lincoln Memorial after dark, it is truly breathtaking and highly recommended. Enjoy this experience without dealing with crowds of people and don’t forget to bring your camera! If you’re planning your trip during the daylight hours, NOW PASS offers two days on Open Top Sightseeing that visits 30 stops all over Washington DC on a double decker bus, including the Lincoln Memorial located at stop 20. Take advantage of the tour with the discounted price on the NOW PASS to learn more fun facts and interesting information about the Lincoln Memorial.