Tourism is South Dakota's second largest industry, and Mount Rushmore is the state's top tourist attraction.  

The location's popularity, like many other national monuments, stems from its instant recognition

There is no substitute for iconic assets like the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, or Mount Rushmore

These locations are one-of-a-kind places".  However, Mount Rushmore also provides access to the surrounding desert environment, 

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proximity of national monuments to urban centers such as New York City.

In the 1950s and 1960s, local Lakota Sioux elder Benjamin Black Elk, son of medicine man Black Elk

 posing with thousands of tourists daily in his native attire.

The South Dakota State Historical Society notes that he was one of the most photographed people in the world during a twenty-year period.