5 Things You Didn't Know About The Lincoln Memorial

On May 30, 1922, former President William Howard Taft dedicated the Lincoln Memorial to honor the memory and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about this iconic monument...


Lincoln's Son Lived To See The Unveiling Of The Monument Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and efforts immediately began to build a tribute to the late President. The Lincoln Monument Association was officially created by Congress two years later, and craftsmen were sought to build the monument. But details about the project were argued about, which caused ongoing delays in construction. Construction finally began in 1914, with the majority of the details and architectural elements completed by 1917.  The memorial didn't open until 1922, just in time for a 78-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln -- the president's son -- to see the unveiling.

40% Of The Monument is Underground When viewers bask in the 99-foot-tall, 202-foot-wide Lincoln Memorial, they’re really only seeing a little more than half of the construction. What many people do not know is that about 40% of the monument is actually underground. Rooted beneath the ground is the piece’s foundation, which extends 66 feet into the earth at its deepest point to help support the weight of the massive and heavy memorial site.


There Is A Typo On The Wall Can you imagine being the person whose poor spelling is carved into history? That’s exactly what happened on the wall of the monument. On the north wall is an inscription of the former president's inaugural address delivered in March 1865 near the end of the Civil War. The inscription reads, "With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured." But if you pay close attention, you will notice that the word "Future" is spelled "Euture." Attempts have been made to correct the misspelling, though the blunder still remains somewhat visible.

Urban Legend Says He’s Signing His Initials Take a good look at Lincoln's hands at the memorial. They appear to be in different positions, and many visitors have noticed that one hand is in a position that looks like the letter "A" in sign language, while the other looks a lot like the letter "L" -- as in Abraham Lincoln.  It might not be what the designer had intended, but there is pretty compelling evidence as Lincoln was the president who signed the charter for Gallaudet University, a university dedicated to teaching deaf students. Another popular myth is that there is a face hidden in the back of Lincoln’s hair, meant to immortalize the designer Daniel Chester French.

Four Score And Seven Steps It’s an impressive climb up the staircase to the chamber of the Lincoln Memorial, but perhaps you didn’t know that it’s also a very fitting climb. The ascent from the lip of the Reflecting Pool into the temple itself clocks in at exactly 87, or "fourscore and seven," marble steps.  In other words, four score and seven steps, reminiscent of the celebrated start of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Examine these steps closely as you climb; halfway up the staircase there’s a marked stone where Martin Luther King, Jr. stood while delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech.