Roosevelt Memorial


“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” These are the words of our 32nd President, a man who embodied the meaning of the word courage. Despite being stricken with polio at age 39 and paralyzed from the waist down, he emerged as a true leader, guiding our country through some dark times: the Great Depression and World War II. The memorial honors this man, his story, and his era.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a presidential memorial dedicated to the memory of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to the era he represents. For the memorial’s designer, landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, the memorial site represents the capstone of a distinguished career, partly because the landscape architect had fond memories of Roosevelt, and partly because of the sheer difficulty of the task.

Dedicated on May 2, 1997 by President Bill Clinton, the monument, spread over 7.5 acres (3.0 ha), traces 12 years of the history of the United States through 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 bronze sculpture by George Segal. A bronze statue of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt standing before the United Nations emblem honors her dedication to the UN. It is the only presidential memorial to depict a First Lady.

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 braille writing 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. Read more…

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. The memorial lies along the southwest shore of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, near the intersection of Independence Avenue, West Basin Drive, and Ohio Drive, SW. More information