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I Heart Lincoln Walk

President Abraham Lincoln spent the final four years of his life in the nation's capital. During his time here, he left a lasting imprint on the entire city, particularly on the buildings where he lived and worked and at the theater where he lost his life. Today, you can visit many of the sites that best preserve the memory and ideals of this American hero.

The Scene of the Crime

Start your tour at Ford's Theatre, the site of Lincoln's assassination. On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor, shot Lincoln in the head while the president and the first lady were seated in the Presidential box. There's a museum below the theater that explains how Booth and his coconspirators planned the murder. Across the street is the Petersen House, where Lincoln died the next day.

The Road to the White House

Leave the museum and head right (south) on 10th Street NW. Turn right on E Street NW, which becomes Pennsylvania Avenue at 13th Street, and then continue walking past Freedom Plaza to the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, which has been on this location since 1847. Lincoln and his family stayed here prior to his first inauguration. In the hotel's History Gallery, the president's hotel bill is on display.

From the Willard, go north on 14th Street for six blocks. You'll pass the White House Gift Shop (1440 New York Ave. NW) on your right side, where you can stop to buy some Lincoln memorabilia, then continue north past Franklin Square on your right, and make a left on L Street NW, then a right on Vermont Avenue to the Lincoln Restaurant (1110 Vermont Ave. NW). This upscale diner has tables and floors embedded with more than a million Lincoln pennies. The menu includes the 16th president's favorite foods—oysters, gingerbread, and chicken fricassee.

After a rest, walk south on Vermont Avenue, and turn off onto 15th Street heading south. Walk three blocks, and turn right onto Pennsylvania Avenue; enter Lafayette Park to see the White House. Lincoln moved in on March 4, 1861, soon after his inauguration. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, extensively renovated and redecorated the "shabby" house when she moved in, running up some very high bills in the process.

"A government of the people, by the people, for the people . . ."

Leave Lafayette Park and the North Lawn of the White House to walk right (south) on 15th Street NW. Walk three blocks, with the grounds of the White House on your right, until you arrive at the National Mall. Go one block and enter the grounds of the Washington Monument. Walk up and over the hill toward the World War II Memorial, and continue along the Reflecting Pool toward the Greek temple–like Lincoln Memorial, at the other end. In this work, not dedicated until 1922, Lincoln sits immortalized. On the walls, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is preserved in its entirety, facing his Second Inaugural Address.

If you're lucky enough to arrive in the evening, you'll see the lights on the National Mall create some stunning vistas. Rest a while to reflect on Lincoln's achievements.

Updated: 2013-09-17

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