As we finish our trip to Grant’s tomb, it’s time to take you inside this massive mausoleum. Many disabled Civil War soldiers had to be carried up the stairs to the shrine, which became a popular pilgrimage for veterans on both sides of the conflict.
Above the entrance, just below the dome and between the two seated figures, you see the inscription “Let Us Have Peace,” generally attributed to Grant’s 1868 acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination.
Flanking the wide stone stairs, you’ll see two impressive eagle statues.
Once inside, a massive ornate dome dominates the memorial’s interior, drawing your eyes upward and creating a cavernous feel.
In the bays underneath the arches, you’ll see scenes from Grant’s military career, such as Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.
Also on the main floor, side rooms feature displays of Civil War flags and maps of battles, marking where Grant fought. My childhood friend Diane, who was on her inaugural Nerd Trip, thought these maps were a great way to create a visual connection between these events. The display even has crossed swords to mark the battle sites.
You go down a flight of stairs to reach the massive coffins of President and Mrs. Grant. You cannot get right up next to them, but you are pretty close.
Along the perimeter, niches in the wall feature large busts of Civil War generals, such as this one of Sherman.
Here’s an interesting tidbit we learned at the Grant memorial. Apparently General and Mrs. Grant were invited to Ford’s Theater with President and Mrs. Lincoln on the evening of Lincoln’s assassination, but chose instead to visit their children in New Jersey.
Back to the mausoleum, there actually isn’t much to see inside, and its starkness simply magnifies its size. There is a lot of marble, and I wonder if anything that big would ever be built today.
While it’s worth a trip downstairs (so you can really appreciate the size of the red granite coffins), I think the better view of the open crypt is from the floor above.
We took the subway and walked a few blocks the site. The monument is near Columbia University, so we also enjoyed checking out some of the cool buildings in the neighborhood. Special thanks to my friend Diane who allowed me to invite myself to stay at her apartment while I was in town for meeting.
As always, I wish you loads of laughs and lots of learning on your own Nerd Trips!