A 34ft Tribute: The Lincoln Book Tower

The Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership features a winding staircase and 34-foot tower of books about Abraham Lincoln, symbolizing that the last word about this great man will never be written.

The books in our tower are made from fireproof bent aluminum. Our exhibit designers printed the cover art directly onto the metal book “jackets.” The tower features 205 real titles, most of which are currently in print. To get permissions, more than 50 publishers were contacted.

The titles repeat throughout the tower, and the tower totals approximately 6,800 books. At three stories high, the tower represents just a fraction of the 15,000 titles written about Lincoln.

Timelapse video of the Tower’s installation:

When selecting books, the designers focused primarily on Lincoln himself—books solely focused on events of the Civil War or Mary Todd Lincoln were less likely to be considered. The majority of the titles are histories and biographies about Lincoln; the designers also included several children’s books, books of Lincoln’s speeches, quotations or quips, and one or two travel titles.

Design for the tower was completed in late 2010, so only books published before 2011 were included. Construction of the book tower took two weeks, and the designers glued each book in place by hand.

The designers were able to incorporate many books published within the last five years, including Harold Holzer’s latest book The Living Lincoln, James Swanson’s Manhunt and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals.

Staff members discuss their favorite books in the Lincoln Book Tower: