Travel photo blogging: MLK Memorial in DC

by Eszter Hargittai on January 19, 2015

MLK Memorial, DCIn honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, I am posting some photos I took at the MLK Memorial in DC when I visited there last Fall. There is no shortage of critical commentary about the memorial from when it was dedicated a few years ago. I wasn’t aware of these when I visited, which is probably a good thing as it would have tainted my visit, not necessarily justifiably as far as I’m concerned. (If you feel you must add your critical thoughts in the comments, I just ask that you try to be original.)

MLK Memorial, DCI admit that it wasn’t a particularly targeted visit on my part. I was in town for a conference and had an afternoon to roam the city. I had been walking for hours (winding my way back from the Thomas Sweet in Georgetown to the Mall) and found myself walking on Independence Ave SW when I spotted signs to the MLK Memorial. Once I saw the signs, I knew I wanted to see it.

I was lucky in the timing of my visit. It was early evening on a weekday, 9/11 to be precise. There was almost no one else around. This made a difference as I found the place perfect for contemplation. I entered from the northwest, which worked well as I appreciated walking through the rocks not knowing exactly what to expect.

MLK Memorial, DCAfter looking at MLK’s figure and taking in the scene of the Jefferson Memorial that is in the statue’s line of sight, I walked from quote to quote and reflected on each, especially given the Ferguson events still fresh in memory. I was able to do all of this almost in solitude. The early evening light added to the mood.

If you can, I recommend visiting early evening or perhaps early morning on a weekday when you may have the place mostly to yourself. Be sure to give yourself time, it wouldn’t have been the same had I felt rushed.



MPAVictoria 01.19.15 at 6:22 pm

” Be sure to give yourself time, it wouldn’t have been the same had I felt rushed.”

I hope to make a visit one day. I am glad you found it worthwhile.


Ben Alpers 01.19.15 at 7:42 pm

And once you’re at the King Memorial, be sure to walk the couple extra blocks over to the FDR Memorial, which is one of the more interesting of the many memorials in DC.


Eszter Hargittai 01.19.15 at 9:21 pm

Thanks for that tip, Ben. Sadly, I didn’t have a chance that time as it was in the opposite direction of where I needed to go eventually (and it was starting to get dark). I will definitely do this next time I’m in the area, probably next Sept for the same conference.


Main Street Muse 01.19.15 at 11:18 pm

Thanks for these pix! Makes me realize I need to get my children to DC sooner rather than later.


bad Jim 01.20.15 at 7:08 am

I was born in D.C. So was Duke Ellington, who was featured on the district’s commemorative quarter. To me the mall is all about the Smithsonian; I don’t know why people make pilgrimages to monuments when they could be bathing their senses in the museums. When I visit I don’t necessarily entirely regress to the child who first encountered them; I tour the National Gallery and the Hirschhorn with the sensibility of one familiar with the Louvre and the Uffizi, and the Air and Space Museum with the eye of an engineer. Still, I linger.

Back in the 50’s they were sort of the attic of America, and one could peruse an assortment of printing presses or old pianos and suddenly confront a nude sculpture of Washington. I like randomness, and not at all sure that the modern presentation is an improvement.

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