Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Plus D.C. Monuments to Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Others: Photos

From the new King Memorial to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial, see photos of the capital’s storied monuments.

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The new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is the latest addition to the capital’s storied monuments dedicated to presidents and fallen heroes. From the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, see photos of the monuments on and around the National Mall.

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MLK Memorial: This image of the “Stone of Hope,” the centerpiece of the new National Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, takes care to keep its subject’s face dark, and in shadow. That's because the sculpture of the great African-American leader was realized in a Caucasian-pink granite that isn't obviously suited to him.

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MLK Memorial: Nicholas Benson of Newport, R.I., a third-generation stone carver, engraves one of more than a dozen quotations from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. into the memorial that honors him. The inscriptions help focus the memorial’s message.

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MLK Memorial: The memorial’s “Stone of Hope” shows King emerging from a granite slab, which itself is imagined as splitting off from a “Mountain of Despair” that sits some way behind it. The figure was carved by Lei Yixin, a “master carver” from China whose previous works have included sculptures in honor of Chairman Mao. Many observers see echoes of authoritarian art in Lei’s image of King.

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MLK Memorial: Quotes from Dr. King form a backdrop to his sculpture at the National Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, now unveiled in Washington.

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MLK Memorial: A close-up of the face of Dr. King’s sculpture. Its rendering in black and white helps King’s skin look less pink.

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Washington Monument: The Washington Monument, at the center of the National Mall, is one of the world’s greatest commemorations, of anyone. Its towering minimalism makes it surprising and rewarding, more than a century after its dedication. But would we like it as much with the colonnade and statuary originally meant to decorate it, but left off when funds ran low?

Roger L. Wollenberg, UPI / Landov

Iwo Jima Memorial: The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, sits just outside Washington proper, in Arlington, Va. In properly artistic terms, its premise is simple-minded, almost goofy: It takes an iconic photograph and realizes it in monumental bronze. But it’s hard to imagine a simpler, more efficient pointer to Marine Corps history and heroism.

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Lincoln Memorial: Though hardly avant-garde when it was finished in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial, whose central statue is shown here, is brilliantly thought out. Its building stands as a temple on a hill, inviting visitors to climb to its holy of holies. From the foot of the temple stairs, the assassinated president is a small figure shrouded in the dark. Once you’ve climbed up to his feet, however, he’s huge, bright, and commanding.

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FDR Memorial: The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, dedicated in 1997, is a favorite with both locals and visitors. It takes you on a quiet stroll through a landscape, as it lays out the president’s fundamental values. “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little,” reads one of many Roosevelt quotes carved into his memorial. Sculptures, such as the one shown here, are modestly scaled, so that they help tell a story instead of overwhelming the site.

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Jefferson Memorial: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, across the Tidal Basin from our new national monument to Martin Luther King Jr., uses gracious neo-classical architecture to honor a president who also designed several great Palladian buildings. Explicit symbolism is kept to a minimum.

Murat Taner / Corbis

Korean War Veterans Memorial: The Korean War Veterans Memorial is almost a scene from a 1950s war movie, brought to life on the National Mall. That conceit is fairly effective, except for the deliberately artsy stylizations of the monument’s faces and bodies, and the silver metal they’re cast from. Their feint at modern art is more distracting than not: The memorial’s commemoration might have worked better in conservative bronze, realistically modeled.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial: At the moment of its dedication, in 1982, the minimalist design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial sparked fierce debate. It has gone on, of course, to be one of the Mall’s most cherished spaces. A rare monument that was up-to-date with current trends in art, the Vietnam Memorial’s success may lie in how well it resists any simple commemoration, of a war whose memory is vexed.

Alexis C. Glenn, UPI / Landov

WWII Memorial: The giant World War II Memorial, dedicated in 2004, has many detractors. Its design has only vague ties to the war it commemorates: Without reading its inscriptions, you’d never know what its subject might be. And it cuts the Mall almost in half.

Ken Cedeno / AP Photo

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial: The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial commemorates police who lost their lives in the line of duty. It is one of many minor memorials cited in downtown D.C., away from the National Mall, and built around lists of the fallen.

Roger L. Wollenberg, UPI / Landov

Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial: This statue of Teddy Roosevelt is only one element in his memorial. His monument is sited on a wooded island in the Potomac, and is as much about the president’s love of wilderness as the achievements of his career.