Mar 14, 2023 - News

Few D.C. memorials honor women

Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial site.

One of the few D.C. memorials honoring a woman. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

For top-tier monuments and memorials, D.C. is lacking when it comes to honoring women.

Why it matters: Monuments have historically represented our values by putting concepts and people on literal pedestals, then enshrining them with protective status and decades-long upkeep, Axios’ Chelsea Brasted writes.

  • But public art in the U.S. has long presented a lopsided view that can leave the impression that American history is all horses and white male military veterans.

Catch up quick: The National Park Service oversees more than 100 monuments and memorials in D.C. alone. Depending on how they’re counted, roughly six honor women: Eleanor Roosevelt (at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial), Joan of Arc (Meridian Hill Park), Mary McLeod Bethune (Lincoln Park), Sarah Rittenhouse (Montrose Park), the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and Nuns of the Battlefield.

  • The Capitol houses in its National Statuary Hall memorials honoring women. There are also allegorical statues of women throughout the city like those at the Dupont Circle Fountain.

Worth noting: There are plans to add a memorial honoring women who served on the homefront during WWII.

Zoom out: This isn’t just a D.C. problem.

  • It's easier in the U.S. to find a sculpture of a mermaid than of any American-born woman. That's according to Monument Lab, a nonprofit group that in 2021 counted who and what Americans honor in their public art — 22 sculptures of mermaids, to 21 honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

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