Sitting on the southern axis of the National Mall, opposite the White House and Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial sits on the bank of Tidal Basin on reclaimed land on was once part of the Potomac.
A classical domed structure of the kind that Jefferson made famous in the United States after his stay in France, the structure is anchored at its center by an oversized statue of Thomas Jefferson. It’s an open-air memorial and, like the Lincoln Memorial, open 24 hours (the main statue area is open; the restrooms, gift shop, and interior exhibits close after hours).
The Jefferson Memorial is at its photogenic best during late March through early-April during the blooming of the cherry blossoms that ring the Tidal Pool.
The Jefferson Memorial has undergone some extensive renovations and cleaning. If you haven’t seen the dome for a while, you’ll notice it’s now clean and gleaming white. There’s a great article on the process here. That phase was completed in 2022.
The Memorial is now undergoing a second round of renovations, this time to the interior. The main rotunda with the statue remains open, but the lower level and access areas are undergoing improvement, renovation, and reconfiguration. Specifically:
An expanded exhibit space with state-of-the-art, universally designed exhibits that offer new perspectives on Thomas Jefferson.
A new exhibit area on the domed statuary chamber level of the memorial.
New sloped walkways on either side of the front steps of the memorial.
A modernized elevator to provide reliable access from the ground level to the chamber.
New paving at the lower terrace in front of the memorial.
The lower level will be reconfigured to include new restrooms and an improved retail space.
Upgraded mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
Photos of the Jefferson Memorial
I’ve taken many, many photos of the Jefferson Memorial over the years. Here are some.
About the Jefferson Memorial
Dedicated to Thomas Jefferson: The Jefferson Memorial is a monument dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.
Location: The monument is situated in West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., along the Tidal Basin, which is surrounded by cherry blossom trees.
Completed in 1943: The construction of the memorial began in 1939 and was completed in 1943, under the supervision of architect John Russell Pope.
Neoclassical design: The memorial features a neoclassical design, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, and reflects Jefferson’s admiration for classical architecture.
19-foot statue: The centerpiece of the memorial is a 19-foot bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, sculpted by Rudulph Evans. The statue was added in 1947, four years after the memorial’s completion.
Inscriptions: There are four inscriptions on the interior walls of the memorial, which are excerpts from Jefferson’s writings, including the Declaration of Independence.
Annual Cherry Blossom Festival: The Jefferson Memorial is a popular site during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, which celebrates the gift of cherry trees from Japan to the United States in 1912.
Managed by NPS: The memorial is managed by the National Park Service, as part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Getting to the Jefferson Memorial
The best way to get to the Jefferson Memorial is by Metro. The closest stop is Smithsonian (0.8 miles) (Orange line). Metro has a handy Trip Planner and here’s a map of the Metro lines.
There is a small parking lot on the eastern side of the Tidal Pool near the Jefferson Memorial. (This parking lot is closed off during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.) There’s more parking on the opposite side of the Tidal Pool along the Potomac, extending all the way along Hains Point, including some convenient parking lots at the foot of the 14th Street Bridge.
Tripods are allowed around the memorial grounds and around the Tidal Pool but not inside the memorial itself. There’s no problem using a flash. No reservations or tickets are required–you can wander around at will.
The Jefferson Memorial never closes and does not require tickets or reservations–you can just wander in and around the Memorial any time of the day or night (the main chamber remains open; the gift shop and lower levels are closed after hours).
This is a strict no-drone zone. It’s within a National Park (no drones allowed), within a mile or two of the White House, Pentagon, and Reagan National Airport, and is directly in a low-altitude flight path for helicopters.