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The quote in the article “On an Obelisk Course” (10/1) that the site for the Washington Monument was selected “in order to give the illusion of seeing the monument and the site of the Lincoln Memorial in a direct line” is less than credible.

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When the site of the Washington Monument was selected, the site of the Lincoln Memorial was under water during high tides. The idea of filling in the tidal mud flats and using the site for a national memorial to President Lincoln was a result of the efforts of the Senate Parks Commission (the McMillan Commission), which was formed in February 1901.

The generally accepted explanation for the siting of the Washington Monument southeast of the intersection of the north-south axis of the White House and the east-west axis of the Capitol is that the project engineers determined that the subsoil conditions at the intersection of the two axes would not support the weight of the monument.

The credit (or blame) for the location of the Washington Monument apparently belongs to the engineers, not to a forecast that 70 years after the beginning of construction of the monument a proposal would be developed to build a monument to another president on a site in the Potomac River mud flats.

West End