The Origins of the FDR Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of the longest serving presidents in USA history, in office from 1933 to 1945. He served for four terms during this time and proved to be a charismatic leader of the Democratic Party.

Roosevelt was born in 1882 in Hyde Park, New York and entered into the arena of politics in 1910, serving in the New York State Senate. Roosevelt progressed through a career in politics until 1921, when he was infected with Polio and became wheelchair bound. This wasn’t enough to stop the ambitious man from continuing his political aspirations after a period of recovery.  He then went on to become the Governor of New York.

In 1933, he became president for his first term during the Great Depression, which would prove a challenge for any president. He repealed the Volstead Act and began to create plans and legislation that would begin to boost the economy once more. These two approaches won him great popularity with the American people and were sources of his success in running for his next term.

His next term took him through WWII as he led the country through this tumultuous time. He is often praised by those that study his actions, as he began on a neutral front until it suited the country to side with the UK and China.

Roosevelt eventually died of a stroke from multiple complications in 1945, and this became a time of national mourning for the country. He accomplished so much during his terms as president, from creating economic stability to brokering US Egyptian relations.

His memorial was dedicated in 1997 by Bill Clinton and the design of the monument was hotly debated. The sculptor portrayed the late president in a seated position with his dog Fala and his chair covered by a cloak. Some argued that he should be shown in his wheelchair, but the overall decision was to portray him as he was in public appearances, in which his wheelchair was not seen.

The large area of his monument features water fountains and quotes from the late president. It was designed to be fully accessible to those with additional needs and the quotes can even be read in braille.

In 2001, another sculpture of FDR was added to the entrance of the memorial and this showed him in his wheelchair. This was funded by the National Organization on Disability to show that those in wheelchairs could be whatever they desired. Far from being insulted, the original designer of the monument took this as a compliment, as his statue had inspired a debate and a new design.

If you’d like to visit this memorial and learn more about this president’s life, then book one of our tours today. We visit this location on a variety of tours, including the Gray Line DC After Dark tour, which allows you to see the monuments and memorials after dusk. On this tour, you’ll see everything from the FDR Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial while learning historical facts about these important figures.