I wish I could have met Martin Luther King, Jr. If he was anything like the monument found along The National Mall in Washington, D.C., he must have been a powerful, imposing man because that is how I felt at the memorial. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is one of the newest in the capital. It was made to resemble the man etched in solid stone, breaking through a barrier, standing thirty feet above all those who visit. Now that’s an impressive character.
Getting to the monument is relatively easy, but can still be difficult and confusing. It is tucked away into a cozy little corner around The Tidal Basin, across Independence Avenue SW from the Reflecting Pool and near the World War I Memorial (also called the D.C. War Memorial). You won’t know you are coming upon this memorial unless you are using the trail around the lake, approaching from the direction the statue faces. There are three ways you can visit this monument, either on foot, bike, or segway: walk along Independence Avenue across the Kurtz Bridge from the National Mall, cross over Independence Avenue from the Reflecting Pool near the D.C. War Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial, or use the Tidal Basin Trail from the FDR Memorial. Just about anyway you want to visit this memorial, though, you have to walk. The nearest parking is along Ohio Drive SW which would include about a five or ten minute walk, but it’s flat with sidewalks so easy for wheelchairs.
Once I found the memorial, I found myself looking up. And up. And up. I do not believe the memorial was designed to suggest the man was a giant, nor do I believe it was meant to say he was larger than life and imposing on the little people. I believe it’s meant to demonstrate his ideas, speeches, and presence were enormous and if they could be given a physical form, this is how big they would have appeared.
But I think what I love most about this memorial is the bright hue of the granite. Yeah, it’s a stark contrast to King, but it’s also clean. I really like it. During a sunny day the monument almost beams with light while surrounded by lush green landscaping. It also contrasts nicely with a deep blue sky which is many photographer’s dream for artistic photos.
I enjoyed the time spent here, reading the quotes on the massive 450′ wall that is part of the “mountain of despair”, a famous quote of his. The space is wide open so you don’t really feel crowded with many other visitors, and it’s flat and easily accessible for those with walking disabilities. It’s also a great place to bring the family, especially since this can easily be made part of a larger day exploring monuments. It is easily in my top ten favorite monuments, so far, but it will take me many more years before I have managed to visit all the monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Photos
If you would like to view more photos from The National Mall in Washington, D.C., please visit my website at http://photography.southeasterntraveler.com/Washington-DC/The-National-Mall/