After years in the making, people can finally get an up-close look at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.
Tourists and Washingtonians were about to get their first up-close look Monday at the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The site was set to open without fanfare around 11 a.m. to kick off a week of celebrations ahead of Sunday's official dedication.
The memorial will stay open until 10 p.m. Monday and every night this week.
The National Park Service released some logistical details for Monday's soft launch:
"During the soft opening, the entrance line will start at the Memorial entrance, located at Independence Avenue and West Basin Drive S.W. The line will stretch westward toward 23rd St. S.W. NPS rangers will be onsite to direct visitors to the Memorial and will be stationed at various locations along the line.
During the soft opening period there will be no vehicle dropoff areas near the Memorial. Dropoffs are not allowed on Independence Avenue or Ohio Drive. A visitor taxi stand is available at the Lincoln Memorial. The closest Metrorail stations are Foggy Bottom and Smithsonian on the Orange and Blue lines, and Arlington National Cemetery on the Blue Line."
The MLK Memorial sits on the National Mall near the Tidal Basin, between memorials honoring Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. It includes a 30-foot-tall sculpture of King and a 450-foot-long granite wall inscribed with 14 quotations from the civil rights leader.
The sheer size of the sculpture of King sets it apart from nearby statues of Jefferson and Lincoln, which are both about 20 feet tall, though inside larger monuments.
A panel of scholars chose the engraved quotations from speeches by King in Atlanta, New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Montgomery, Ala., as well as from King's books and his letter from a Birmingham, Ala., jail.
One of the stone engravings reads: "We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Sunday's dedication ceremony will mark the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the dedication.
On Sunday, Metro plans to open early, at 5 a.m., to accommodate crowds. Weekend track work has been canceled.
To view the Park Service's complete rundown of the week's events, click here.