Today, we’re celebrating George Washington’s birthday with an ode to Mount Rushmore.
The Mount Rushmore National Monument in Keystone, South Dakota, features 60-foot (18 meter) granite busts of Washington and fellow US presidents Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. A South Dakota historian named Doane Robinson is credited with the idea for Mount Rushmore to promote tourism in the Black Hills region of the state. Originally, Robinson wanted the carvings to feature western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud and Buffalo Bill Cody, but sculptor Gutzon Borglum felt the monument should have a more national focus and opted for four presidents. The initial plan was to depict each president head to waist, but in 1941, after 14 years of construction, federal funding ran out and the project was forced to end prematurely.