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by Adventures With Adam
New York, New York
September 23, 2001
Next stop after circling the Tidal Basin, the Washington Monument towers over the mall and just about everything else in D.C. (By law, no building except this stands higher than the Capitol, preserving the low-rise skyline here.) The scaffolding that engulfed the monument during its recent restoration is gone, but the elevator was still closed during my visit. When it reopens, expect long lines for a glimpse from the top of D.C.
Continue your run across the mall and oval, which takes you back to Pennsylvania Avenue and one more close-up look at the White House. If you want to tour the public areas inside, you must line up early (about 7 a.m.!) at the White House visitors center and obtain timed-admission tickets.
OK, that’s four miles and seven major landmarks covered in about an hour and twenty minutes, depending on how long you linger. You can always go back and take a closer look at your favorites, now that you’ve had a preview.
From journal Adventures in D.C.
From my hotel at 18th and L Streets, I headed over to 17th Street, then down past the White House and the impressive, Beaux Arts Old Executive Office Building. Continuing south, I crossed Constitution Avenue and entered the mall, which stretches from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial on the banks of the Potomac. Turning right on a path paralleling Constitution, I soon arrived at the Vietnam War Memorial. This v-shaped black granite wall inscribed with the names of the 55,000 men who died in the conflict remains the most solemn of all the D.C. monuments, even more so on a Memorial Day weekend.
Next stop going west is the Lincoln Memorial, the nation’s temple and always my favorite monument. Every visit, I pause to read the words of the Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address, which are inscribed on the walls. A sign on memorial’s steps requests "Quiet, Respect Please;" inside, however, the cavernous space echoed with conversation louder than middle school cafeteria. So, I made my way to the next sight, the relatively new Korean War memorial, located across the Reflecting Pool from the Vietnam War Memorial. Like the V.W.M., this is another black granite wall, but this one depicts scenes of the war: faces, villages, and landscapes all are etched in it. Opposite the wall, life-sized statues portray a troop on patrol. Visit the memorial at night or on a misty day and the patrol takes on a ghostly pall. Further along the granite wall, the inscription "Freedom Isn’t Free" reminds visitors of the importance of our nation’s military actions.
From the Korean War Memorial, cross over and follow the path around toward the Tidal Basin. Turn right onto the path when you reach the basin and follow it around to the sprawling F.D.R. Memorial. (Watch your head as you jog around: many tree limbs hang low over the path.) More than a tribute to Franklin Roosevelt, the monument also salutes his wife Eleanor and the entire generation of Americans that survived the Great Depressions and fought World War II. Stop and read Roosevelt’s inspirational words inscribed on the red granite wall. A sculpture of a depression-era bread line provides a popular photo opportunity. The visitors center gives further insights into F.D.R.’s life and times. Signs all around remind us that the monument is wheelchair accessible. In fact one of the statues here portrays the polio-stricken president in his wheelchair. You’ll find water available here, so drink up before you jog on.
Continued in Part 2....