Exploring Washington D.C. Part 1

The day at our Nation's Capital was organized by Margaret months ago. Lee and Margaret live in Tahoe and the Bay Area town of Benicia. Did you know you can arrange tours through your local government Representative? Theirs in Benicia is Mike Thompson and his aide took great care of us.

Our first stop was the extremely opulent, Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. An interesting sight was to see authors photographing their newly written books, before submitting them to this esteemed institution.
The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800 when President John Adams signed a bill providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. The legislation described a reference library for Congress only, containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress - and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein…"
The minute we walked into this building we were awed. Once we entered the Great Hall, we stepped into the sumptuously decorated main vestibule, with its gleaming white marble arches, stucco decoration, and heavily-paneled and gold-ornamented ceiling. Its elaborate ornamentation has been called "the richest interior in America".
If one wanted to research anything, you would go here- The Main Reading Room. It is the principal point for gaining access to the Library's general collections of books and bound periodicals. Every day, hundreds of books and bound periodical volumes are delivered from the stacks for use in the Main Reading Room. The only way we got to see it was from a viewing area on the 3rd floor. We all wanted to return just to be in this room.
This is the Librarian's Room that has just recently been opened for the public's viewing. Now used primarily for ceremonial purposes, this room was the office of the Librarian of Congress from 1897 until 1980, when the office was moved to the Madison Building. The central disc of the domed ceiling contains a painting by Edward J. Holslag, representing Letters. The following sentence is inscribed on a streamer:
LITERA SCRIPTA MANET [The written word endures]
The coolest souvenir was our Library of Congress library cards. What an extraordinary experience.
The United States Capitol (1793), is a symbol of the American people and their government, the meeting place of the nation's legislature. The Capitol also houses an important collection of American art, and it is an architectural achievement in its own right. It is a working office building as well as a tourist attraction visited by millions every year.

After meeting Ari, Rep. Thompson's aide, we headed to the Visitor Center. This is a relatively new space which provides a welcoming and educational environment for visitors to learn about the unique characteristics of the House and the Senate and the legislative process as well as the history and development of the architecture and art of the U.S. Capitol.
Our tour led us through history. The Old Supreme Court Chamber, a masterpiece of architecture and engineering, is the first room constructed for the use of the nation's highest judiciary body and was used by the Court from 1810 until 1860. Built by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, it was a significant architectural achievement, for the size and structure of its vaulted, semicircular ceiling were virtually unprecedented in the United States.
This marble statue of Abraham Lincoln is by Vinnie Ream, for whom Lincoln sat. She was the first woman artist to receive a government commission.

The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room 96 feet in diameter and 180 feet in height located in the center of the United States Capitol on the second floor. The Rotunda is used for important ceremonial events as authorized by concurrent resolution, such as the lying in state of eminent citizens and the dedication of works of art. The Rotunda canopy features the painting entitled The Apotheosis of Washington, and the walls of the Rotunda hold historic paintings and a frescoed band, or "frieze," depicting significant events in American history.

Because we have animals back 'home' to care for, we couldn't not stay nearly as long as we would have liked, but we felt we had gotten an exceptional introduction to D.C. and plan to return again Thursday. E pluribus unum.

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Cyndy Brown said...

You look fabulous! So glad you have the skirt! Lee looks pretty funny laying on the floor taking pics...but hey, if that's what you have to do...then do it! Cyndy

Karen Booth said...

It looks like you had the same beautiful blue skies that we were having in Charleston. Great photographs. I'd like to give Lee a big "high five" for laying on the floor for the perfect shot.

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