Fun Facts About the Kennedy Center

It’s been a staple in the DC area for more than a half-century, and there’s certainly plenty to appreciate about The Kennedy Center. Officially called the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, plans for a National Cultural Center were first hatched in the late 1950s, when then President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation.

A few years later, President John F Kennedy and his wife launched a multi-million-dollar fundraising campaign for construction of the new center, flanked by bipartisan support. Following President Kennedy’s assassination, President Lyndon B Johnson designated the center as a living memorial, recognizing the former president and his support of the performing arts. 

At the groundbreaking, it’s said President Johnson used the same gold-plated shovel that was used to break ground for the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. The Kennedy Center contains an Eisenhower Theater, today, and a Hall of States, which displays all 50 state flags hanging from the ceiling.

For those keeping track, the state flags are hung in the order in which they entered the union. You’ll also find a DC flag in this part of the center, and flags representing US territories. 

Another hall, called The Hall of Nations, displays flags from countries that have diplomatic relations with the US. On the outside, you can take in views of various monuments, the Pentagon, Washington National Cathedral, Arlington National Cemetery and the surrounding Foggy Bottom neighborhood from the River and Roof Terraces.

When you go, look closely at the marble walls of the River Terrace, for this is where you can read quotes about the arts attributed to President Kennedy. Back inside, the Grand Foyer at the Kennedy Center includes 16 crystal chandeliers, each of which weights one ton.

At one time, the grand space was considered one of the largest rooms in the world. It’s longer than the height of the Washington Monument. There’s also a bust of President Kennedy at the center, which is said to weigh in at 3,000 pounds.

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