The National Mall: America’s Front Yard
The National Mall has always been a public space where Americans from all walks of life come to gather, to celebrate our freedoms, to honor our patriots and military and to be part of the American experience.
The National Mall has more visitors per year than Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite combined. Three thousand events are scheduled annually and all 45 Presidents of the United States have walked the National Mall. The National Mall reflects our shared history and democratic values. It is home to the history, heroes and hope of America.
America’s Front Yard has a lot to offer its visitors. The beautiful monuments and memorials attract millions of visitors each year, while the open space and fields allow for countless group activities. The National Mall belongs to everybody. It truly is America’s Front Yard.
The Mall: America’s Front Yard
Preserving the story of the National Mall
The Trust for the National Mall has made a commitment to preserving and sharing the living history of the Mall, so that future generations will understand the importance of this iconic national park.
American history has been made on the National Mall and is reflected in the 3,000 events held on the Mall each year. In 1922, President Abraham Lincoln’s son attended the dedication of the memorial to his father, who guided this country through the Civil War. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of that very same memorial. In 1969, the largest protest of the Vietnam War occurred on the National Mall, just feet from where the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1982. And every four years Americans from across the country gather here to welcome the incoming President of the United States.
The two-mile stretch of land in the heart of the capital is where visitors from all over the country and world come to celebrate America’s rich history. From inauguration ceremonies to sporting events and the annual Fourth of July Fireworks, the Mall encompasses America’s ideals and heritage better than any other park in the country.
The National Mall is open to everybody to enjoy the spacious area for all kinds of events and activities. Visitors enjoy spending time on America’s Front Yard as they visit the many monuments and memorials our nation’s capital has to offer. The Mall provides visitors a place to relax and reflect, while enjoying the open space and fresh air.
The public may visit The Mall 24 hours a day. National Park Service Rangers are on duty to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.
Monuments and Memorials
– An oasis in the nation’s capital
Situated between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, Constitution Gardens is a quiet oasis removed from the bustling capital, with the potential to function as an important social space and a welcome respite on the Mall.
The design for Constitution Gardens was built for the American bicentennials. In 1982, a memorial to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence was added.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
– Honoring one of America’s most beloved presidents
Dedicated by President Clinton in 1997, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a testament to one of America’s most beloved presidents. In honor of President Roosevelt’s four terms in office, the monument is divided into four outdoor “rooms,” where visitors are able to view myriad statues and murals representing issues from the Great Depression to World War II. When visiting the memorial, visitors have the opportunity to learn about and reflect on some of the most significant events in this country’s history, while enjoying some of the best views of the Tidal Basin and iconic cherry blossom trees that surround it.
Franklin Roosevelt had a strong connection to the National Park Service. During a speech in 1936, President Roosevelt noted “there is nothing so American” as our national parks. The memorial dedicated to our 32nd president embodies the values of the National Mall: that it belongs to the people and it is for all to share and enjoy.
– A site of reflection and inspiration for all
Dedicated in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial stands as a symbol of liberty and endures as a site for reflection and inspiration for all visitors. Despite being home to one of America’s most influential founding fathers, the Jefferson Memorial is perhaps most famous for the cherry blossom trees that surround it and the Tidal Basin which the memorial overlooks.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
– Honoring American Heroes
The Korean War Memorial was dedicated in 1995, on the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the conflict. The memorial consists of 19 statues of soldiers representing a squad on patrol, drawn from each branch of the Armed Forces. The 19 figures create a reflection on the wall, symbolizing the border between North and South Korea: the 38th parallel.
Alongside the soldiers stands the Mural Wall with more than 2,400 photographs of men, women and dogs who served in Korea.
Lincoln Memorial & Reflecting Pool
– A landmark defining our nation
A 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln sits overlooking the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument from his permanent seat on America’s Front Yard. Dedicated in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial has been home to many defining moments in American history. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of 250,000 attendees.
On those same steps, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in August of 1963, with over 200,000 people journeying to the memorial and reflecting pool from all over the United States.
The Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool have been home to numerous events throughout history, making them iconic sites on America’s Front Yard.
The Reflecting Pool, modeled after the grand canals at Versailles and Fontainebleau, has mirrored these chapters in our history. Together the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool have overseen American history, from civil rights marches to the annual Fourth of July Fireworks.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
– Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope
Dedicated in 2011, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial exemplifies the fundamental values of Dr. King during his quest for equal rights for all citizens.
Inspired by Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he states “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” a figure of Martin Luther King, Jr. is carved into the “Stone of Hope” standing past the “Mountain of Despair.”
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
– A site for remembrance and reflection
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1982, is one of the most somber places on the National Mall. Two walls of polished black granite are sunken into the earth, etched with the 58,274 names of the missing or deceased, are the simple components of the Memorial.
The design of the memorial was chosen during a national design competition in 1980. The winner, Maya Lin, was an undergraduate at Yale University. In 1984 an American flag and a sculpture of “Three Servicemen” was added and in 1993 the Women’s Memorial was included, honoring women who served in the war.
– Defining the D.C. skyline
The Washington Monument is the prominent feature of the D.C. skyline. Standing at nearly 555 feet tall, the Monument is surrounded by 50 flags. Construction began in 1848 and the monument opened in 1888.
In 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck Washington, D.C., which forced the closing of the Washington Monument due to significant damage. Throughout 2013, repairs were completed, and the Washington Monument re-opened on May 12, 2014.
Then in August of 2016, the monument was closed once again for a project to correct the elevator’s ongoing mechanical, electrical and computer issues. One of America’s most well-known pieces of architecture is scheduled to re-open in 2019.
World War II Memorial
– Honoring the heroes of the Greatest Generation
The World War II Memorial recognizes Americans who served, honors those who fell, and acknowledges the Allied victory that restored freedom and ended tyranny around the globe. Commissioned by President Clinton in 1993, the World War II Memorial sits on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
The World War II Memorial sees 4.4 million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular spots on America’s Front Yard. The Memorial is split into two sides, representing the Atlantic and Pacific theaters and is adorned with gold stars, representing Americans who lost their lives during WWII.
The design of the memorial was selected from 400 submissions during a nationwide design competition.
Content for this article was provided by the Trust for the National Mall, whose mission is improving and preserving America’s Front Yard. For more information about the Trust for the National Mall, see www.nationalmall.org