Designated as a National Memorial
on March 3, 1925, Mount Rushmore
is one of the most recognizable monuments in the world. Featuring 60-foot heads of four United States
Presidents carved into granite 500 feet off the ground, it is one of the more striking large-scale sculptures you'll ever see.
The mountain itself was named after a New York lawyer, who upon seeing the 6,000 foot peak, asked the name of it. When a local prospector replied that it had no name, Charles E. Rushmore joked that it should be Mount Rushmore. The name stuck.
In 1923, state historian Doane Robinson suggested carving some giant statues in South Dakota's Black Hills. He envisioned the Black Hills as a gateway to the Rockies and the west, and felt a historic monument would serve as a symbol of American pride. Robinson's original idea was to carve Native Americans and American explorers into a series of tall thin peaks known as The Needles. After strong opposition, however, the Rushmore site was chosen instead.
An up-and-coming sculptor named Gutzon Borglum took on the task of creating the monument. He had recently been working on Stone Mountain in Georgia, and had also carved a new torch for the Statue Of Liberty. Borglum's design would feature four of the United States' greatest Presidents:
George Washington, first President and commander of the Revolutionary Army.
Thomas Jefferson, third President, author of the Declaration of Independence, promoter of western expansion.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President, restored peace to the Union and outlawed slavery on American soil.
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President, led the Rough Riders, promoted construction of the Panama Canal, and fought for conservation and business reform.
Calvin Coolidge dedicated the memorial in 1927, but the Great Depression soon followed, and construction slowed. The head of George Washington was dedicated in 1930, but it would take Borglum's persistent lobbying to get the funds needed to complete the job. The final head, that
of Teddy Roosevelt, was dedicated in 1939.
In recent years, Mount Rushmore has undergone even more development. An additional visitor center was built, as well as the Avenue Of Flags, the Lincoln Borglum Museum, Grandview Terrace, and the Presidential Trail. The monument was also the site of the final climactic scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest", which had a shooting title of "The Man In Lincoln's Nose."