The long-awaited Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be open to the public by the early fall of 2011.
Construction on the four-acre, $120 million site began in December, 41 years after the civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis. The memorial will sit on the National Mall’s Tidal Basin, between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.
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"This is the culmination of 30 years of work and the family is very, very excited about it," said Isaac Farris, King's nephew and president and CEO of Atlanta's King Center.
The fundraising for site was spearheaded by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity which created the nonprofit Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. King was a member of the fraternity. To date, the foundation has raised $108 million of the necessary funds, Ed Jackson, the executive architect, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fund-raising is ongoing.
“Workers at the site are removing sidewalks and trees in the area where the granite carving of King and the walls memorializing his sayings will stand,” the Journal-Constitution writers. “Later this year, the infrastructure such as utilities and deep pilings to support the structures and carving of King will be built. When the site is ready, the stonework will be moved into place. More than 200 new cherry trees will be added. Jackson hopes to do a walk-through with all the contractors in July next year to make sure everything has been finished as required.”