Site Plan

Landscaped Berm

Each berm is planted with Yoshino cherry trees, jasmine, English yew, and liriope. For roughly two weeks every spring, around the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the cherry trees will bloom, covering the memorial in delicate pink blossoms; a yearly celebration of Dr. King’s lasting legacy.

Landscaped Kidney

The kidneys are planted with crape myrtles, Yoshino cherry trees, and a variety of flowering bulbs, which help to break up the wide expanse of the plaza and offer visitors a shady respite.

Enhanced Landscape

The landscaped areas around the Tidal Basin have been planted with cherry trees since Japan donated 3,000 of them to the Nation’s Capital in 1912. In the spirit of preserving Washington’s history, these areas have remained undisturbed by the memorial’s construction. However, along the memorial’s curbs, closest to the kidneys, more cherry trees have been planted to further enhance the Tidal Basin’s edge.

Inscription Walls

These granite walls extend on either side of the Mountain of Despair, a total length of about 500 feet. A total of 14 quotes that are representative of Dr. King’s universal themes of Democracy, Justice, Hope and Love will be engraved into the granite; a lasting testament of Dr. King’s humanitarian vision.

Stone of Hope

At 28’-6”, the Stone of Hope is an impressive symbol of unyielding faith in the ultimate promises of mankind and democracy. From this symbolic stone, a likeness of Dr. King emerges, looking across the Tidal Basin toward the Jefferson and FDR Memorials, two more men who helped make America the country it is today.

Mountain of Despair

The main entrance of the memorial is through the Mountain of Despair, a massive boulder symbolizing the struggle faced on the quest for peace and equality. From within the symbolic struggle, a piece has been removed and thrust into the open plaza; the piece is called the Stone of Hope.


This small planter is landscaped with elm trees and English yew, and helps enclose the forecourt of the memorial, providing visitors with a more intimate experience by isolating them from the rest of the Mall and the city beyond. The walls around the planter are just the right height for seating under the shade of the elm trees.

Auxiliary Building

The 3000 sq. ft. space houses a glass encased bookstore to the north, visitor comfort facilities to the south, and a National Park Service ranger station in the center. The building is clad in the same granite used on the Inscription Walls, and the small plaza around it is planted with more cherry trees and elms, under which visitors can rest in the shade on granite benches.