- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Review
This 7.5-acre memorial to the 32nd president includes waterfalls and reflecting pools, four outdoor gallery rooms—one for each of Roosevelt's presidential terms (1933 to 1945)—and 10 bronze sculptures. The granite megaliths connecting the galleries are engraved with some of Roosevelt's famous statements, including, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Congress established the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Commission in 1955, and invited prospective designers to look to "the character and work of Roosevelt to give us the theme of a memorial." Several decades passed before Lawrence Halprin's design for a "walking environmental experience" was selected. It incorporates work by artists Leonard Baskin, Neil Estern, Robert Graham, Thomas Hardy, and George Segal, and master stone carver John Benson.
The statue of a wheelchair-bound Roosevelt near the entrance of the memorial was added in 2001. Originally, the memorial showed little evidence of Roosevelt's polio, which he contracted at age 39. He used a wheelchair for the last 24 years of his life, but kept his disability largely hidden from public view. The statue was added after years of debate about whether to portray Roosevelt realistically or to honor his desire not to display his disability.
You're encouraged to touch the handprints and Braille along the columns in the second room, which represent the working hands of the American people.
A bronze statue of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stands in front of the United Nations symbol in the fourth room. She was a vocal spokesperson for human rights and one of the most influential women of her time.
If you come with a toddler, head straight to the third room. Though youngsters can't sit on Roosevelt's lap, they can pet Fala, Roosevelt's Scottish terrier. The tips of Fala's ears and his nose shine from all the attention.
Allow about 30 minutes at this memorial. Take your time walking through the most expansive presidential memorial in Washington and read the lines from FDR's speeches.
This was the first memorial designed to be wheelchair accessible. Several pillars with Braille lettering and tactile images help the visually impaired.
This memorial presents great opportunities for family photographs. You can strike a pose while petting Fala, joining the men in the breadline, or listening to Roosevelt's fireside chat.
At night the lighting over the waterfalls creates interesting shadows, and there's not as much noise from airplanes overhead.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
A photographer friend and I met at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History (woolly mammoth in entry) to see the winning entries of a recent photography contest sponsored by Smithsonian and Epson. Read more
A few months ago, a friend of mine got married in a spur of the moment wedding to allow his father to make the wedding before his health went further downhill due to his battle with ALS. Read more
Heading to Baltimore/DC at the end of April with my inlaws and my 4 and 5 year old boys. Read more
· News & Features
Washington, D.C., is a city of trees, with some 300 tree species spread out in its vicinity. Each fall,... Read more
Washington DC has proven lately that its got much more to offer than just the buzz of politics.... Read more
East to West Coast, and Paris to the Vegas Strip, we've got the summertime guide for you.... Read more