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Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson Memorial is located on the south bank of the Tidal Basin near downtown Washington, D.C.. It is America's foremost memorial to the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. The memorial lies in line with the White House, other memorials, and the U.S. Capitol Building, and is surrounded by cherry blossom trees given by the city of Tokyo to the city in 1912. Designed by the architect John Russell Pope and modeled after the Pantheon of Rome, the circular colonnaded structure is an adaptation of the classical style of architecture Jefferson introduced to this country. Subsequently, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission was created by an act of Congress in June 1934, to oversee construction of the memorial. Architects Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers replaced Pope upon his untimely death in August 1937, and the site at the Tidal Basin was selected the same year. The location sparked public criticism because it resulted in the removal of Japanese flowering cherry trees from the Tidal Basin. Further controversy surrounded the memorial's design; the Commission of Fine Arts objected because it would supposedly compete with the Lincoln Memorial. Unable to find a compromise, the commission took the matter to President Franklin D Roosevelt, who preferred the pantheon design and gave the green light to proceed. On November 15, 1939, President Roosevelt laid the memorial cornerstone. More than $3 million was spent to complete the monument, which was dedicated on April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth. Since its dedication, the memorial has seen a few changes, the notable one being the replacement of the plaster model of Jefferson by a bronze statue, after the World War II-era restriction on the use of metals was lifted. The 129-foot dome is four feet thick and weighs 32,000 tons. A memorial chamber, museum, restrooms, gift shop, and bookstore are located in the basement. The most noteworthy feature of the domed interior is the statue of Jefferson, sculpted by Rudolph Evans, that stands in the center of the memorial. It is 19 feet tall, weighs five tons, and stands on a six-foot pedestal of black Minnesota granite. On the inside walls are four inscriptions of Jefferson’s writings describing his beliefs in freedom, education of all people, and the need for a change in the laws and institutions of a democracy. The sculpture in the pediment was created by Adolph Alexander Weinman. Each year, Jefferson Memorial plays host to various ceremonies, including annual Memorial Day exercises, Easter sunrise services, and the ever-popular Cherry Blossom Festival. Other activities include interpretive talks by park rangers at the memorial on request. For children, the memorial conducts the Junior Ranger Program. The Jefferson Memorial is administered and maintained by the National Park Service.