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Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a massive sculpture carved into Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Completed in 1941 under the direction of Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln, the sculpture's roughly 60-ft.-high granite faces depict U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The site also features a museum with interactive exhibits.

The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation’s birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively. The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level.

South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. His initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from Native American groups. They settled on Mount Rushmore, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature American West heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, but Borglum decided that the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents.

US Senator from South Dakota Peter Norbeck sponsored the project and secured federal funding; construction began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941, and his son Lincoln took over as leader of the construction project. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist, but lack of funding forced construction to end on October 31, 1941.

Sometimes referred to as the "Shrine of Democracy", Mount Rushmore attracts more than two million visitors annually

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