Friday, April 27, 2012

The Jefferson Memorial

After the Capitol tour was over, I decided to walk down to the Jefferson Memorial.  This was a bit harder than it looked.  I knew that I needed to walk west from the Capitol down Independence, and then turn left on 14th Street.  And that's what I did...I thought.

The sky was completely clouded over, and I managed to get turned around somehow, so I was walking east on Independence.  At first, the neighborhood was pretty nice...and then it started getting a bit sketchy.  I wasn't particular worried, although I was glad that I was carrying an umbrella, which can be used in a defensive manner.  I got lost in this neighborhood some years back at night in a car; I am very glad that I was not there at night on foot.

Once I realized my mistake--when I reached 14th Street SE (not SW), and it was running into Massachusetts Avenue--I walked a couple of blocks down and caught the Metro Blue line.  This took me to a station that was a few blocks from the Jefferson Memorial.

I stopped at one National Park Service information booth, and the ranger distinctly told me to walk south and turn right at the Washington Memorial.  I took his advice, but it soon became apparent that I needed to turn left.

You can see it across the Tidal Basin, and in a relatively understated way, it is beautiful and elegant.  Up close, it follows in the classical tradition of Revolutionary and Republican America:

Inside is a heroic statute of Jefferson, really quite akin to something that you might have seen in a pagan temple in Rome or Greece:

I was slightly surprised and yet pleased to see an African-American man taking pictures, with what seemed like appropriate awe.  For all the negative press about Jefferson's relationship with Sallie Hemings, and his holding of slaves, his writings about the subject of slavery on the wall are sobering and powerful:

Of course, some of his other powerful writings are elsewhere inside:

From the front steps of the Memorial, looking out towards Washington's obelisk, and the front steps themselves:

After this experience, my feet were beginning to really hurt.  I wandered over to the food court in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center (or whatever its formal name is) and bought lunch at a place called To Market To Market where lunch was a buffet where you paid by the pound.  It was okay.  I noticed a lot of employees from EPA eating there.


  1. Having grown up in D.C. I can testify that the quadrant layout of the city has gotten more people lost than one can count, including more than a few long time residents. There are almost always identical addresses in adjacent quadrants so one has to know in which quadrant (NW, NE, SW, SE) the address that one is seeking lies. Given that there are a limited number of highly desirable addresses downtown, the closer one gets to the center the worse it gets.

    And, the naming convention of streets, places, roads and avenues, while logical once one learns the code, also contributes heavily to sale of compasses, maps and GPS devices.

  2. I myself wouldn't have gone there, but that's because I despise Jefferson myself. I think he's the most overrated President of the 19th Century.