Technically, the definition of a tidal basin is "a body of water in an area subject to tides whose water level is maintained at a desired level by artificial means", but to Washingtonians and those who visit the capitol of the United States, the Tidal Basin is much more.
While Washington D.C.'s Tidal Basin is indeed a man-made inlet that controls the water levels of the pretty Potomac River, it is best known for a variety of other reasons.
View towards Jefferson Memorial
The Tidal Basin is part of Washington D.C.'s West Potomac Park and is a favorite area for tourists to visit to enjoy a stroll around this attractive city.
One of the most magnificent sights of the Tidal Basin area occurs during the early weeks of April, when spring hits the eastern coast of the United States. That's when D.C.'s famous cherry trees - which line the Tidal Basin - are in bloom. This awesome sight, which prompts a huge festival each year, is the result of some 3,000 cherry trees that were a gift to the U.S. from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912. About 100 of these original trees still stand.
During the National Cherry Blossom Festival, visitors to the nation's capital can enjoy wonderful concerts and other cultural performances, hear lectures about the trees, enjoy art exhibitions, take a bike tour of the Tidal Basin area, and much more... all with a bit of a Japanese twist.
Another awesome sight, located on the south bank of the Tidal Basin, is the Jefferson Memorial
. Dedicated to America's 3rd president - who was the author of the Declaration of Independence - this gleaming white, circular-shaped, domed memorial pays homage to the principals of liberty and freedom in which Jefferson so fervently believed. A museum is located in the lower level of the lobby and a bookstore in the basement.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
A newer addition to the Tidal Basin area is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
, situated on the western edge of the water. Creators of this memorial note that it is not only a
tribute to Roosevelt - who served nearly four terms as president of the United States - but also to the era in general. Shade trees, waterfalls, and statuary line the path to the 7.5 acre (3 ha) memorial, which opened in 1997. This clever tribute to one of America's most popular presidents is divided into 4 "rooms", highlighting events from each of Roosevelt' terms.
Martin Luther King Memorial
In 2011 a new memorial
, dedicated to Martin Luther King jr, was installed along the Tidal Basin, just northwest of the FDR Memorial. The design of the impressive monument is based on a quote from King's famous speech 'I have a dream' : 'We will be able to hew out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope'. The monument shows a monumental statue of Martin Luther King jr standing in front of a mountain. The middle section of the mountain is 'hewn out' and moved forward. Quotes from King's speeches are inscribed on a long granite wall.
Enjoying the Water
When the weather is warm in Washington, DC, visitors can do more than admire the Tidal Basin from afar. Renting a paddle boat is a great way to enjoy the amazing sights of this area. Two- and four-passenger boats are available from mid-May until Labor Day (the first Monday in September), 7 days a week, and on weekends from Labor Day until mid-October. The boats are especially popular during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.