The New MLK Memorial a Welcome Addition to Washington D.C.

Recently, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial made its highly anticipated debut on the D.C. monument scene after more than two decades of work and planning. While it made a splash immediately, despite a delayed opening due to inclement weather, many locals still have not checked it out in person for themselves.

To help conceptualize its appearance and grasp its design and meaning, here’s a quick collection of facts about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial:

Address: The address for the MLK Memorial is 1964 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington D.C. Its street number, 1964, references the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Cherry Trees: Anything on the Tidal Basin will by necessity need to incorporate cherry trees into its design. Some 200 trees are located on the four-acre site of the MLK Memorial.

Concept: The main concept for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is a quote from his famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech: “Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Walking up to the memorial from the street, visitors will see a large granite block – the mountain of despair – featuring that quote, with its center removed. That 30-foot tall center block – the stone of hope – is placed in front, and features the detailed statue of Martin Luther King.

Controversy: Maya Angelou helped to spur on a controversy about the MLK memorial due to one of his quotes being shortened. The inscription on the side of the statue of King says, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness”, which was paraphrased from the complete quote, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Cost: The D.C. MLK Memorial cost about $120 million to plan and construct.

Location: Logistically, the Martin Luther King Memorial can be found at the Tidal Basin, between the FDR Memorial and the World War I Memorial, which is just past the basin itself towards the National Mall. In terms of its design, it was placed on a straight line between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, what the creators call a “visual line of leadership.”

Quotes: Written on the arching 450-foot granite inscription wall are 14 of Dr. King’s most famous quotes, spanning a 14-year period of his life. The quotes culminate in one taken from the final sermon he gave, just four days before his assassination, at the D.C. National Cathedral.

This article was first published on Yahoo! Voices on February 13, 2012