Part of the original design for the federal city, this massive open space park stretches from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. It was originally intended to be a grand avenue, and over time the Mall as we know it today cropped up. It has been the location of many historic, world-changing events throughout history including the 1963 March on Washington, the Million Man March and several presidential inaugurations. Today, the National Mall can serve as a place to remember American heroes, to celebrate freedom and to be a forum to exercise freedom in the form of protests and rallies. It is also where you will find the museums of the Smithsonian, the Vietnam Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the famous Washington Monument. Certainly any visit to Washington DC should start at the National Mall.
Located at the west end of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial is a principal landmark of the city. It offers magnificent views of the city from several vantage points. Daniel Chester French's 19-foot (5.7-meter) statue of Lincoln seated and deep in thought, along with the carved text of the Gettysburg Address, provides a glimpse into a weighty period of American history. The 36 Doric columns represent the number of states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death. Go at night for much lighter crowds.
The legislative branches of the U.S. government, the Senate and the House of Representatives all meet in the Capitol Building. The building's cornerstone was laid in 1793 by President George Washington alongside other masons. The first session of government in the building was held in 1800, although the building wasn't completely finished being built until 1811. Today, visitors can view the Senate and the House from the galleries when Congress is in session. Public tours form on the east side of the Capitol and include visits to the Rotunda and other chambers.
The symbol of the city of Washington DC, this 555-foot marble obelisk on the National Mall honors the nation's first president. The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid in 1848, but construction was not completed until 1884. About one-third of the way up the obelisk is a visible change in the marble, evidence of the onset of the Civil War. Construction was halted during the war, and when builders returned to the same quarry to complete the project afterward, enough time had passed to cause a significant change in the color.
The second president, John Adams, was the first to live in the White House in 1801. Originally called the "Executive Mansion," it earned the nickname "The White House" after its marble exterior was whitewashed to cover burn marks from damage by the War of 1812. Student and military veteran group tours are available with advance notice. The White House occasionally closes without notice for official functions.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is an impressive memorial honoring the life of the important civil rights activist. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked to create equality and world peace, and he has inspired millions. The memorial is based around justice, hope and democracy. It includes a 30 foot (9 meters) statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. along with quotes from some of his addresses and sermons.