One of the few memorials in Washington erected to an inventor, the Guglielmo Marconi Memorial immortalizes the contributions the inventor made to telecommunications in the 20th century. The statue has two main components: a smaller granite block with a portrait bust of Marconi on top of it, and a larger granite block featuring a symbolic female figure seated with a globe in front of her, with waves representing electrical currents surrounding them. Funded by the Marconi Memorial Foundation and completed in 1941, the statue pays tribute to Marconi’s great successes.
Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, is responsible for developing wireless telegraphy, furthering earlier contributions in the field by Heinrich Hertz. After being approached by a British company to test his inventions, Marconi eventually established wireless telegraphs between President Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII of Britain in the early 20th century. For his accomplishments, Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, and his invention was widely used. After the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, ships began installing Marconi’s wireless telegraphs as a safety feature.
While not an American inventor, Marconi’s statue in DC recognizes the international impact that his invention had on telecommunications and technology in the early 20th century. The development of wireless telegraph technology furthered future technological advancements during this time, and Marconi’s statue reminds passersby of that legacy and his contributions.
DC Inventory: February 22, 2007
National Register: October 12, 2007