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FDR Memorial in Washington D.C.

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The Design for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
Picture of a statue of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the FDR Memorial.

Statue of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the FDR Memorial.

(Photo by Jennifer Rosenberg)
For decades, three presidential monuments stood along the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. as a reminder of America's past. In 1997, a fourth presidential monument was added - the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

It Took Decades

In August 1955, ten years after FDR's death, Congress established a commission to create a memorial to Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. president. Four years later, a location for the memorial was found. The memorial was to be located half way between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, along the Tidal Basin.

Although several design competitions were held over the years, it wasn't until 1978 that a design was chosen. The commission chose Lawrence Halprin's memorial design, a 7.5 acre memorial that represented both President Roosevelt and his era. With only a few changes, Halprin's design was built.

The Design

Unlike the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials which are compact, covered and focused on a single statue of each president, the FDR memorial is vast, uncovered, and focused on numerous statues, quotes, and waterfalls.

Halprin's design honors FDR by telling the story of the president and the country in a chronological order. Since Roosevelt was elected to four terms of office, Halprin created four "rooms" to represent the twelve years of Roosevelt's presidency.

The rooms, however, are not easily defined and the memorial is more accurately described as a long, meandering path, bordered by walls made of red South Dakota granite.

Since FDR brought the United States through the Great Depression and World War II, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, dedicated on May 2, 1997, now stands as a reminder of some of America's tougher times.

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