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All You Wanted to Know About the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Abhijit Naik Mar 17, 2019
One of the biggest presidential memorials in the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is spread over an area of 30,000 sq m. A glimpse of this marvelous site, which has been the center of attention of millions around the world.
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a presidential memorial honoring the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his era. The Memorial, located on the western edge of the Tidal Basin, in Washington D.C., depicts 12 years of American history (March 4, 1933 - April 12, 1945), when Roosevelt served as the President of the US.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Washington

Also referred to as the FDR Memorial, it was dedicated to the nation on May 2, 1997, by the then President, Bill Clinton. On the same day, it was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places―the official list of sites and structures deemed worth preserving, compiled by the United States administration.
The Memorial, spread over an area of 7.5 acres, has four outdoor rooms, each representing one of Roosevelt's 4 terms as the President. It is a part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks managed by the National Park Service.
The Memorial was designed by the American landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin. The sculptures and art works in the Memorial were created by George Segal, Neil Estern, Leonard Baskin, Robert Graham, and Thomas Hardy.
The sculptures depict the various incidents that took place during Roosevelt's term as the President, ranging from him standing in the bread line to listening to a fireside chat on the radio. A bronze statue of Eleanor Roosevelt present in the Memorial, depicts her standing in front of the UN National Emblem, honoring her commitment to the United Nations.
Keeping a note of the ex-President's disability (due to an attack of polio at age of 39), this memorial was designed in such a manner that it would be accessible even to those with physical impairments. The Memorial has an area which has tactual imprints in braille script to help people who are blind.
A statue of the President depicts him in a chair, with a cloak hiding the chair, like he appeared in front of the public throughout his life. This didn't go well with all the sections of the society.
A group led by the National Organization on Disability collected $1.65 million to build another statue, which would clearly show the President on the wheelchair―identical to the one he used. This new statue was placed near the entrance of the Memorial in January 2001.
An extensive use of running water is noticed in the Memorial. A waterfall is present in each of the 4 rooms, representing President Roosevelt's 4 terms. Initially, the visitors were allowed to wade in these waters, but now the National Park Service prohibits people from doing so. Small waterfalls were built to lend continuity to the theme of running water.
The five main water bodies here are symbolic and have the following meanings:
  • A single large drop symbolizes the crash of the economy, which triggered the Great Depression.
  • Multiple stair step drops represents the Tennessee Valley Authority dam-building project.
  • Chaotic falls at varying angles is a remembrance of the World War II.
  • A still pool in the Memorial symbolizes President Roosevelt's death.
  • A wide layout of waterfalls gives a retrospective of Franklin Roosevelt's term as the President.
The Franklin Roosevelt Memorial speaks not just for the President, but speaks in volumes about the era he represented. One of the most-visited memorials in the United States, this is a place worth visiting at least once.