John Gutzon Borglum (1871 - 1941) is best remembered for which
National Monument? Where is it located, how big is it and what
does it represent?
Mount Rushmore , in the black hills of South Dakota, 23 miles
southwest of Rapid City – the geographic center of the United
States (including Alaska and Hawaii). The monument depicts the
faces of four Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson,
Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The faces average 60 feet
from chin to forehead - designed for a man 465 feet tall, nearly
the size of the 66 foot Sphinx of Giza, Egypt and over three times
the size of the Statue of Liberty’s face. They represent: The
Creation of the Country (Washington), the Expansion (Jefferson,
for the Louisiana Purchase of 1803), the Preservation (Lincoln)
and the Conservation (Roosevelt, because of his interest in protecting
the environment).The monument is carved in a mountain at an elevation
of 5,500 feet above sea level and 500 feet above the valley –
higher than the great Pyramids of Egypt.
John Gutzon Borglum created this monument by using the controlled
use of dynamite. He began blasting away in 1927, but it would
take 14 years to complete, primarily because it was difficult
to scrape up money to continue work during the Great Depression.
It cost $1 million (that’s right, only one million) and
was paid for largely by the Federal Government. Borglum hired
400 miners, and despite perilous conditions, work was completed
in October 1941 without a single loss of life. New Yorkers can
find examples of Borglum’s work that are closer to home than South
Dakota. They include: a head of Lincoln in the Capitol’s rotunda
in Washington, D.C., a statue of Lincoln at a Newark courthouse
and the Sculpture of the Apostles at the Cathedral of St. John
the Divine in New York City. He died seven months before his most
famous work was completed, and the project was handed over to
his son – Lincoln Borglum.
Although John Gutzon produced his share of Lincolns, he also worked
on a memorial to the Confederacy in Georgia (but withdrew from
the project). The memorial included plans for a larger than life
statue of Robert E. Lee.#
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