The Supreme Court of the United States was housed in the Capitol from 1800 until 1935, when the Supreme Court Building opened. The large square in front of the court must work good to all those papparazi who catch their victims going downstairs the famous steps we to watch them in TV news then. However since they have set up back exits the steps have been more often seen in movies than in the news.
I have never seen any whiter building. Just in case you are a family papparazzi keep in mind that it's a bit tricky to take good shots of your loved ones with the court in the background unless they are dressed in pure white. Urszula, my wife, wanted to have these pictures a lot (guess why?) and I luckily succeded despite her dark jacket.
At first I was surprised that they let us in. Well, I wrongly thought, more, I was sure that such noble and important institution like the Supreme Court, being a possible target for the terrorists, must be closed to any visitors for security reasons. Step by step, traveling around the USA and visiting numerous state capitols, once even a military base, I figured out that strict security does not mean closing, say, a state capitol for visitors. Indeed, there are more "sophisticated" methods of improving security. And first of all, I was explained that public institutions are for the public thus they certainly can't be closed for the public who pays taxes for them. It's an obvious and very American explanation, isn't it?
Well, I've enjoyed a lot a self-guided tour around the Supreme Court including the historical exhibition set up there. I've seen the Court Chamber and amazing ceiling of the Great Hall as well.
More details and pictures in my Things To Do tips # 54 - 61. Start here, please.
The United States Supreme Court consists of eight associate justices and the Chief Justice of the United States. Cases are submitted to the Supreme Court from both federal and state courts when they involve constitutional issues.
The cornerstone of the current building was laid on October 13, 1932. It was in its 146th year when the Court moved into the building in 1935. The Corinthian architecture was chosen to fit in with the other structures on Capitol Hill.
The main floor has the Justices' Chambers, offices for law clerks and secretaries, the east and West Conference Rooms, and some other offices surrounding four courtyards, each with a fountain.
The second floor has more office space, the Justices' Library Reading Room and the Justices' Dining Room.
The third floor has a library of more than 450,000 volumes. The ground floor has offices and public services.
U.S. Supreme Court in the historic Capitol Hill district is just one example of the style that clearly prevails in the city when you look at governmental buildings, some galleries, and many other types of buildings. They are quite impressive but, having seen a few of them, you tend to think you've seen them all, only the scale may be different.
I don't mean to diminish their overall impact - they are utterly stunning! In a way, they are a symbol of D.C. to me.
Fondest memory: The U.S. Supreme Court was another image I remembered from quite a few American movies. It felt great to see its impressive structure in real!
Favorite thing: The statue of John Marshall can be found in a dominant position at the lower level along with other exhibitions. According to the brochure he was the 4th Chief Justice of the United States. I didn't know why they put his statue here, so I asked the information desk. They said because he was a very important justice.
It seems what I thought to be the Congress Library turned out to be the Supreme Court - and actually both buildings are very close to each other, next to the Capitol. I think both are very beautiful buildings surrounded by wonderful green areas - as mostly everything in DC is!!
Fondest memory: PS.- If someone else knows what this building is for sure, I'd really appreciate that you let me know!! Thanks!
Favorite thing: Inside the U.S. Supreme Court, there are 2 spiral staircases. These staircases are unique in that there's no central support as the traditional stairs. Each step is anchored into the marble wall on one end, and rests on the step below on the other. It's like a twisted arch, fitting in the overall Greco-Roman style architecture of the building well.
U.S. Supreme Court- Home of the judicial branch of government.
Fondest memory: Library of Congress- The world's largest library with 26 million books, films, documents and photographs.