The Women's Titanic Memorial of Washington, DC is one of the city attractions you don't often hear about. That’s because it’s located well away from the hustle and bustle. Settled alongside Washington Channel in the quietude of DC's Southwest Waterfront area, the granite memorial honors the men who sacrificed themselves that women and children might be saved during the famous RMS Titanic disaster of 1912.
Featuring a statue designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (yup, those Vanderbilts) and sculpted by John Horrigan, along with a base attributed to Henry Bacon (the architect of the Lincoln Memorial) the Women’s Titanic Memorial was unveiled in 1931 by Helen Herron Taft, the widow of our 27th President William Howard Taft, and the woman responsible for the planting of the cherry trees which famously grace the shores of the Tidal Basin.
The funds for construction were raised through individual donations made by women all across the United States. Among the more famous contributions was that of Titanic survivor Mrs. Archibald Forbes who played bridge with none other than John Jacob Astor IV the night the mighty ship sunk. In honor of Mr. Astor's passing, Forbes would donate the amount of her winnings toward the memorial's construction.
The monument was originally located on the grounds of what is today the Kennedy Center along the banks of the Potomac River. In order to clear space for the construction of this aforementioned building, the Titanic Memorial was relocated to its current location in the 1960s.
The memorial is explicitly dedicated to the men of the Titanic, approximately 75 percent of whom would die in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Many of these doomed souls willingly yielded their lifeboat seats to women and children during the terrifyingly tragic ordeal. The angelic, almost christlike male figure in depiction of sacrifice which serves as the memorial’s focal point stands, arms outstretched, with a crown of laurels atop his head (he’s been holding this pose a lot longer than Kate Winslet ever did). The inscription reads,
The monument is quite striking and it couldn’t be located in a prettier spot. The Southwest waterfront beside Fort McNair has quickly developed into my favorite place in the entire city. It’s right across the water from Hains Point and gives you an excellent view of the planes arriving and departing from Reagan Airport off the far distance. It’s never crowded and always affords you a serene place to think, read, write or simply sit and enjoy the view. The memorial and the waterfront are well worth the visit.