Myths About the Lincoln Memorial

There are lots of myths and urban legends about Washington, DC’s sites. The Lincoln Memorial is the home of the myths I hear most often form visitors (and some misinformed tour guides).

The first myth is that Lincoln’s hands make the American Sign Language symbols for the letters A and L. Some say this is because the sculptor, Daniel Chester French, had a child who was hearing impaired. Not true. French used molds of Lincoln’s hands made in 1860 as the source for his work, opening the right hand to make him appear more relaxed. This myth probably originated because French did do a sculpture of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, the co-founder of the first school for the deaf in the US, Washington’s own Gallaudet University.

The second common Lincoln Memorial myth is that French carved a profile of Robert E. Lee on the back of Lincoln’s head. Again, not true. Looking at the back of the statute is like looking at clouds – if you stare at them long enough who knows what you will see.

The other myth is that the fifty-seven steps leading to the chamber represent Lincoln’s age when he died. Once again, not true. Lincoln dies at 56. The number of steps have no significance other than it’s the number needed to get to the chamber.

David Shaw

When not showing visitors the District (that’s what residents call Washington) I enjoy reading, grilling, and traveling. I’ve been to nineteen countries and every state except Idaho and Nebraska. I am a Certified Master Guide of the Guild of Professional...

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Duration
3 hours
Group Size
1 to 8

Arlington National Cemetery: The Work of the Dead

Every working day more than twenty Americans who sacrificed for their country are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  On this tour we learn that while Arlington's dead rest in peace, they are always working.  Here we will explore how people from every background remind us of our heritage and our responsibility to one another.

from
250 USD
Duration
2 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
1 to 8

Hidden on Capitol Hill

Few people think beyond the Capitol when they think of the Hill. This tour takes you to the heart of a neighborhood with a fascinating history that still speaks to us today. Learn about these famous locations from a former Capitol Hill resident.

from
250 USD
Duration
2 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
1 to 8

Embassy Row: Divinity & Diplomats

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from
250 USD