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The Lincoln Memorial is probably the only one of Washington's many memorials, monuments and museums where history refuses to die. On this spot, it is very much a living thing, a place where power meets the people. Martin Luther King stood on these steps, unfolding his 'Dream' and changing a nation's conscience. President Nixon arrived one dawn in 1970 to talk to protesting students, when the dream became a nightmare over the war in Vietnam. And President Obama came here to make his inaugural speech, living proof that King's 'Dream' was no longer just a dream. The Lincoln Memorial, in short, is a short-circuit to the rewiring of American history.
Abe Lincoln would most certainly approve. The 16th President of the United States, he stood by the founding principles of the nation, that all men are created equal. Even to the point of conflict to uphold them, by standing up to the Southern states over slavery. He saw government as being 'of the people, by the people, for the people', all of them. Down the ages, the American people have listened, and come here to draw inspiration from his words. His two most famous speeches – the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Speech – are inscribed on the Memorial's Hall's huge walls.
The Memorial is indeed vast, a Doric temple whose pillars hold up a ceiling over 18 metres above. Abe Lincoln sits in its vast foyer, deep in thought and facing out towards the pillar of the Washington Monument – and the Capitol Hill behind. You could almost imagine that he's daring the ranks of today's politicians to be as bold and brave in the defence of freedom as he was. One of the most poignant places on the Memorial, though, isn't in this gigantic hall, but on the steps outside. And unless you're careful, you might just miss it.
On the 18th step down from Lincoln's statue, a few short lines start with 'I Have A Dream'. They mark the very spot where Martin Luther King addressed that rally in 1963 to a quarter of million people. He was shot days later. Stand there, close your eyes and you can almost hear the sound of a history that won't lay still.
It's not difficult to spend an entire morning or afternoon at Lincoln Memorial. The list below contains just some of the things you can enjoy here:
For more activities, have a look at our Washington things to do page.
Located in Capitol Hill, this boutique hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Union Station Shopping Center and United States Capitol. Supreme Court of the United States and Capital One Arena are also within 15 minutes. Judiciary Square Station is 6 minutes by foot and Washington Union Station is 6 minutes.
Located in Downtown Washington D.C., this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of National Geographic Society, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and White House. CityCenterDC and Warner Theatre are also within 15 minutes. McPherson Sq. Station is 7 minutes by foot and 7th St. Convention Center Station is 10 minutes.
Located in Foggy Bottom, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Kennedy Center and Georgetown Waterfront Park. Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Lincoln Memorial are also within 1 mi (2 km). Foggy Bottom Station is 7 minutes by foot and Farragut West Station is 19 minutes.
Located in Dupont Circle, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Embassy of India and Dupont Circle. George Washington University and White House are also within 1 mi (2 km). Dupont Circle Station is only a 2-minute walk and Farragut North Station is 12 minutes.
Located in Downtown Washington D.C., this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National Geographic Society and White House. Dupont Circle and National Theatre are also within 15 minutes. Farragut North Station is only a 5-minute walk and Farragut West Station is 5 minutes.
Located in Downtown Washington D.C., this historic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Lafayette Square, White House, and CityCenterDC. Ford's Theater and Walter E. Washington Convention Center are also within 15 minutes. McPherson Sq. Station is only a 2-minute walk and Center Station is 10 minutes.
Located in Foggy Bottom, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Watergate Complex, George Washington University, and George Washington University Hospital. Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Kennedy Center are also within 15 minutes. Foggy Bottom Station is 5 minutes by foot and Farragut West Station is 17 minutes.
Located in Dupont Circle, this luxury hotel is steps from Anderson House Museum and Phillips Collection. Dupont Circle and George Washington University are also within 1 mi (2 km). Dupont Circle Station is only a 3-minute walk and Farragut North Station is 13 minutes.