Ohio Dr. SW
HOURS: Daily 24 hours;
rangers on duty daily 9:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Off the Mall’s beaten pathways across the Tidal Basin lies the Jefferson Memorial, which, like the Lincoln Memorial , boasts stately columns, a 19-foot-tall statue of the president, and engravings of his famous writings.
But the interior of this monument lacks the emotional punch of its predecessor a mile away: The long passages from the Declaration of Independence, various bills, and Jefferson’s letters don’t adequately demonstrate the complexity of this founding father, who served as minister to France, secretary of state, and vice president, and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase.
Still, the building itself is magnificent, a circular colonnade of Ionic columns topped by a shallow dome, a neoclassical design that pays homage to Jefferson’s architectural inspirations, the Pantheon in Rome, and Palladio’s Villa Capra, and calls to mind the third president’s finest architectural legacy, the Rotunda at the University of Virginia.
I enjoy gazing at this memorial from afar, recalling the three things the great redhead wanted to be remembered for: writing the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and founding the University of Virginia.
The Jefferson Memorial is at its most stunning in spring, when the cherry trees that surround it are in full bloom.