Presidential Connections to National Mall and Memorial Parks

After the 1st Congress passed the Residence Act of 1790, President George Washington selected the exact site for the republic’s new federal government along the bank of the Potomac River. Secretary of State, and future president, Thomas Jefferson offered his assistance to President Washington's city planner Peter L'Enfant and eventually an impressive federal city emerged.

The resulting federal parkland, therefore, is the oldest such land managed by the National Park Service. In its administration of this parkland, the National Mall and Memorial Parks shares the privilege with other units of the Greater Washington National Parks system.

The National Mall and Memorial Parks proudly administers many sites dedicated to presidential leadership and historic events affected by presidential action. The park invites you to visit these sites as well as a host of other sites possessing impressive and historic presidential connections.


Presidential Sites

The National Mall and Memorial Parks presidential sites have become iconic images of the United States of America and the park invites everyone to visit them and be a part of American history.

  • Washington Monument-James K. Polk attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony on July 4, 1848 along with future president, Congressman Abraham Lincoln. Chester A. Arthur dedicated the monument on February 21, 1885. Woodrow Wilson and Harry S Truman each visited the monument during their presidencies.
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial - Franklin D. Roosevelt attended both the 1939 cornerstone-laying and the April 13, 1943 dedication ceremonies for this tribute to the third President of the United States.
  • Lincoln Memorial - Warren G. Harding accepted the memorial on behalf of the American people on May 30, 1922, along with Vice President Calvin Coolidge and former president William Howard Taft. The site recently has served as the backdrop for several pre-inaugural ceremonies, including those for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama.
  • Ulysses S. Grant Memorial - Vice President Calvin Coolidge, later the thirtieth President of the United States, presided over the April 1922 dedication of the Nation's tribute to Ulysses Grant who was the Union's chief military savior and, later, the eighteenth President of the United States. Since the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the memorial has served as a focal element during the inaugural ceremonies of each of his successors.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial - Dedicated by William Jefferson Clinton in 1997, the memorial remained a popular venue for special events throughout the remainder of the Clinton Administration. To mark the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the early part of the 21st century, a commemorative stone was added during a ceremony attended by former President George H.W. Bush.

Veterans, Military, and National Service Memorials

The National Mall and Memorial Parks manages several military and veterans related sites that have presidential connections; among the many sites are,

  • George Washington Victory Memorial Building - Warren G. Harding presided over the cornerstone laying ceremony of this World War I Memorial in November 1921. This memorial never materialized but many of its salvaged materials later were incorporated into the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of the George Washington University. The building foundation site along the National Mall now is occupied by the West Building of the National Gallery of Art.
  • District of Columbia World War Memorial (D.C. War Memorial) - Herbert C. Hoover accepted this local World War I memorial on behalf of a grateful nation on Armistice Day, November 11, 1931.
  • World War II Memorial - William Jefferson Clinton participated in a ceremonial ground-breaking for this memorial in November 2000. The completed memorial received an official dedication on May 29, 2004 during a ceremony attended by George W. Bush and former presidents George H.W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton.
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial - George H.W. Bush broke ground for this memorial on Flag Day, June 14, 1992; William Jefferson Clinton participated in the formal memorial dedication on July 27, 1995.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Jimmy Carter signed the Congressional authorization for this memorial in 1980. Following the memorial's 1982 dedication, several Presidents have visited the site. Following the failure of his 1992 reelection bid. Ronald Reagan spoke at the Veterans Day commemoriation in 1984 and 1988 and stopped by after church to leave a bouquet of flowers on May 1, 1983. George H.W. Bush paid a quiet visit to the memorial one evening to participate in the reading of names during the annual Veterans Day commemoration. Early in his presidency, George W. Bush visited the memorial without fanfare and placed a Presidential Challenge Coin at The Wall.

Last updated: November 13, 2018

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