- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
name = Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
iucn_category = V
locator_x = 240
locator_y = 76
Washington, D.C., USA
lat_degrees = 38
lat_minutes = 53
lat_seconds = 2
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 77
long_minutes = 2
long_seconds = 40
long_direction = W
coor_type = landmark_scale:2000
area = 7.50 acres (0.03 km²)
May 2, 1997
visitation_num = 2,852,565
visitation_year = 2005
National Park Service
May 2, 1997, the monument, spread over convert|7.5|acre|m2, traces 12 years of the history of the United Statesthrough a sequence of four outdoor rooms, one for each of FDR's terms of office. Sculptures inspired by photographs depict the 32nd president alongside his dog Fala. Other sculptures depict scenes from the Great Depression, such as listening to a fireside chat on the radio and waiting in a bread line. A bronzestatue of First Lady Eleanor Rooseveltstanding before the United Nations emblem honors her dedication to the UN.
Considering Roosevelt's disability, the memorial's designers intended to create a memorial that would be accessible to those with various physical impairments. Among other features, the memorial includes an area with tactile reliefs with
braillewriting for people who are blind. However, the memorial faced serious criticism from disabled activists. Some of the braille and reliefs were placed well above the reach of even a very tall person, rendering the braille pointless because no blind person could reach high enough to read it. The statue of FDR also stirred controversy over the issue of his disability. Designers decided against plans to have FDR shown in a wheelchair. Instead, the statue depicts the president in a chair with a cloak obscuring the chair. In deference to the disability advocates, the sculptor added casters to the back of the chair, making it a symbolic "wheelchair." These casters can only be seen if one looks behind the statue. Many disability advocates remained upset with the FDR statue. A group spearheaded by the National Organization on Disabilityraised $1.65 million over two years to fund the addition of another statue that clearly showed the president in a wheelchair. In January 2001, the additional statue was placed near the memorial entrance showing FDR seated in a wheelchair much like the one he actually used.
In his 1941
State of the Union Address, as the nation contemplated the increasingly more inevitable prospect of being drawn into the war, President Roosevelt spelled out " Four Freedoms" as a reminder of what America must stand for. From the days of his first presidential campaign during the Great Depression, Roosevelt spoke directly to the people. "I pledge you, I pledge myself," he said in his 1932 acceptance speech, "to a new deal for the American people." Four years later, he proclaimed that "this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny." Throughout his presidency, 1933–1945, he addressed America by radio in what came to be known as fireside chats. Each idea, each phrase was underscored by courage and optimism that inspired the people he served.
More than 50 years after Roosevelt's death, his own words call out from the walls of his memorial as if he were somehow present. Those who know FDR only as a historical figure recognize these words by their association with great and catastrophic events. For the many Americans who lived through the Roosevelt years, the words recall personal struggles and triumphs during 12 years that seemed like a lifetime.
Running water is an important physical and metaphoric component of the memorial. Each of the four "rooms" representing Roosevelt's respective terms in office contains a waterfall. As one moves from room to room, the waterfalls become larger and more complex, reflecting the increasing complexity of a presidency marked by the vast upheavals of economic depression and world war. When the memorial first opened, people were encouraged to wade into the fountains and waterfalls. Within a matter of days, the
National Park Serviceprohibited people from entering the water because they were unable to get insurance.Fact|date=November 2007
Tour guides describe the symbolism of the five main water areas as:
* "A single large drop" - The crash of the economy that led to the
* "Multiple stairstep drops" - The
Tennessee Valley Authoritydam-building project
* "Chaotic falls at varying angles" -
World War II
* "A still pool" - Roosevelt's death
* "A wide array combining the earlier waterfalls" - A retrospective of Roosevelt's presidency
Smaller waterfalls and a reflecting pool located between the "rooms" lend continuity to the water theme.
The memorial was designed by
Lawrence Halprin, and includes sculptures and works by Leonard Baskin, Neil Estern, Robert Graham, Thomas Hardy, and George Segal. The national memorialis part of National Mall and Memorial Parks. As an historic area managed by the National Park Service, the memorial was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Placeson date of its establishment, May 2, 1997.
FDR's feelings about a memorial
FDR had told his friend Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, "If they are to put up any memorial to me, I should like it to be placed in the center of that green plot in front of the Archives Building. I should like it to consist of a block about the size [of this desk] ." In accordance with FDR's wishes, a small, simple memorial to him was placed on the lawn near the corner of 9th Street and
Pennsylvania Avenue. This small memorial predates the larger one by some 30 years.
Roosevelt Island, New York City– planned site of another, as-yet unbuilt, memorial
* "The National Parks: Index 2001–2003". Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior.
* Official NPS website: [http://www.nps.gov/fdrm/ Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial]
* [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AmArt/journal/issues/v18n1/180132/180132.html The President's Two Bodies]
* FDR Wheelchair Statue Campaign: [http://www.nod.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewPage&pageID=1294 NOD.org]
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