DC Titanic Memorial: Silent Tribute in Southwest

Memorial damaged by a flood in 1936


Have you been to D.C.'s Titanic memorial? Chances are you didn’t even know we had one, at least according to our completely unscientific poll of folks on the street.

The monument sits near the banks of the Potomac River near the corner of 4th and P streets SW, about three blocks from the Southwest Waterfront Metro station.

Settled on a nondescript pedestal surrounded by stone benches is the 1931 sculpture of a man with his arms outstretched. The sculpture itself vaguely resembles the scene from the 1997 Blockbuster film when Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet stand on the bow of the ship with arms outstretched.

According to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the monument was originally dedicated in 1931 near the Kennedy Center but had to be moved following a mishap. Former First Lady Nellie Taft unveiled the memorial and introduced its artist, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

"Just a few years later, the Great Potomac Flood of 1936 (eerily ironically) inundated and damaged the memorial," Adam Lewis of the Historical Society told us in an e-mail. "The memorial was then uprooted in 1966 to make way for the Kennedy Center and was held in Fort Washington, Maryland until it was installed at its current location in Southwest Washington."

The memorial was funded by a group of American women. Natalie Harris Hammond, wife of industrialist and philanthropist John Hays Hammond, requested donations for its construction to commemorate the sacrifice the men of the Titanic made to save so many women and children.

The inscription reads: "To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic April 15, 1912. They gave their lives that women and children might be saved."

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