Capitol Hill Historic District, Washington D.C.
We really had a great time on this trip! Just enough length. The food was excellent. Our sail was a special event, the Cherry Blossom Princesses were on board. What a bunch of beautiful, friendly, well manered young ladies.
Our waitress was very nice. They sat us next to another couple from California. "Hi Bob and Sharon"! Hope you read this some time! We enjoyed your company!
There are two ways of touring the Capitol, one is to contact your Congressman for a VIP tour of the Capitol, the other is to wait in line for same day tickets. I would highly recommend visiting one way or the other, this was one of the most interesting places I visited on this trip!
I was able to get on a VIP tour, since it was October it was easy to do with short notice but contact them as soon as you know you are going. The tour starts in the Congressman's office (Indiana is in the Rayburn Building, the buildings are all in a row). An intern in his office took us to the Capitol where we met our Congressman, had our picture taken with him and then the tour of the Capitol started. We were not able to see where the Senate sits but we did get to see where Congress sits, the Rotunda and the Old Supreme Court (I don't think the general tours go there).
I've posted a bit more about my visit in my travelogue.
Inside Eastern Market are many deli's where one can buy a myriad of meats, flowers, cheeses, and fresh bread, and find the most interesting characters, as I do. This guy actually jumped in front of my camera while I was trying to get another shot, then I called him back and said, Smile, your gonna be on VT.
Until the early 1900s, Senators and Representatives had their Washington, DC offices inside the Capitol building. It was very convenient to get to the House and Senate floor for votes, but it got crowded in the Capitol building. Congress authorised the construction of buildings nearby, but outside of the Capitol to relieve overcrowding. Now there are a total of 6 congressional office buildings- 3 for the Senate and 3 for the House of Representatives. In the House, they are named for former Speakers Cannon (for Illinois), Longworth (for Ohio), and Rayburn (for Texas). In the Senate, they are named for prominent former Senators Russell (for Georgia), Dirksen (for Illinois), and Hart (for Michigan). Of course, office space, like everything else on Capitol Hill, is determined by party and seniority. The senior members choose the newest, most modern buildings (Rayburn for the House, Hart for the Senate). The odd thing is, when a senior member dies in or otherwise leaves office midterm, the newbie who replaces him gets his posh office digs until the next election when he has to move down to office space more in line with his limited seniority.
If you are a U.S. citizen, contact your congressman or congresswoman's office ahead of time and arrange a Capitol tour. This will give you cuts in line ahead of all the masses who are waiting in a 90 minute line for a tour. If you do it this way, your tour will be lead by the representative's staffer. Usually, the lowest man or woman on the totem pole gets the tour guide duty. I had to laugh at the thought of the college graduate staffer (no doubt an A student from an excellent university) landing a job on Capitol Hill and getting stuck with playing tour guide to the constituents. In government, I guess everybody has to start somewhere!
This picture was taken in our congresswoman's office while we waited for another family to show up. The person at the desk on the phone is not our congresswoman, Lynne Woolsey, but yours truly, trying to look like a hot shot politico mover and shaker. That's Washington for you - you leave your seat for one minute and someone is always anxious to move in.
The Capitol building is one of the city's unmistakable landmarks. The cornerstone of the building was laid by George Washington himself in 1793. With the exception of certain extenuating circumstances (when the British burned the Capitol), it has housed the Senate and the House of Representatives since 1800.
Hours: M-F: 9am-4:30pm
Until 8pm in summer
The Capitol building is divided into three sections: The North Wing, which houses the Senate, the South Wing for the House of Representatives and the Rotunda. The magnificent Rotunda is the area under the Capitol dome. On its ceiling is Constitino Brumidi's fresco, "Apotheosis of Washington". The bronze 19-foot tall statue, Freedom, tops the dome itself. No building in the District of Colombia is permitted to be taller than the statue, so that nothing may stand above Freedom.
The 45-minute tour of the Capitol begins in the Rotunda, and makes its way around the halls of the building. Along the way, tour guides point out the historical significance of the paintings and statues that adorn the halls. The tour is very informative and will instill an appreciation for the historical and architectural importance of the country's most recognizable office building.
Until 8pm in summer
Admission cost: Free
Take the time to check out the Architecture of the Capitol.. both inside and out. It is defnitely interesting and looks very different from different angles and from each side.
I recommend that you walk around the outside of it before or after you take a tour of the building.
Hours: M-F: 9am-4:30pm
Until 8pm in summer
Many other VTers have already taken the time to post great tips about the Capitol, so all I'm going to say is you must do a tour of this building. The US has so few buildings that are this ornate and impressive. You see this type of impressive architecture frequently in Europe, but not so much in the US. The Capitol is in a class by itself.
You'll also get a mini-history lesson of the early years of the United States. If the House of Representatives is in session, you'll be able to watch the legislators at work. It was not in session for us, but we did get to see a big empty room. Come to think of it, that's not substantially different than when the legislature IS in session.
Wander around the great neighborhoods on "the Hill" during the weekend and you will stumble upon Eastern Market (off of the blue or orange line metro stop entitled Eastern Market). It is a great place to people watch, look at the talent of local artists (painters, jewelers and sculptures) to sampling the delicious local cooking of bakers and the fresh local produce from farmers in the surrounding suburban areas of Maryland and Virginia.
the supreme court was established at the philadelphia convention in 1787. the main purpose of the supreme court is to settle constitutional issues. this beautiful corinthain edifice was designed by cass gilbert and was built in 1935. the public is allowed to view supreme court sessons on a first come, first served basis. when the court is not in session there are public lectures about the supreme court in the courtroom. check their website for times and admission information.
the library of congress was established in 1800 as a government reference library. the library was burned by the british during the war of 1812. thomas jefferson offered his own collection to replace the destroyed books. in 1897 the library moved to a new italian renaissance style building designed by john l. smithmeyer and paul j. peltz. this beautiful building was named the thomas jefferson building after it's benefactor. the library has the largest collection of books in the world. the library is open to the public and you can view a 15th century gutenberg bible and the american treasures exhibit.
Another well know, iconic building of our government...here are my interesting facts about Capitol HIll
1. The Capitol has its own subway. And I bet it doesn't smell like subways usually smell.
2. The statue that sits atop the dome is called the Statue of Freedom. This 130 year old statue is 19 1/2 feet tall and weighs 15,000 pounds.
3. Often mistaken to be the White House by first-time visitors to Washington.
4.The Capitol building contains an empty tomb which was intended to receive the remains of George Washington. But George Washington wanted to be buried on his estate in Mount Vernon.
5. The U.S. Capitol Dome is made of 8,909,200 pounds of cast iron.
6. The statue of King Kamehameha I was once the largest statue in the Statuary Hall Collection. It has since been moved to the Capitol Visitor Center. It is prominently displayed and is part of the lore, but the Hawaiian delegation had to approve its location because it's bad luck to step over him...so he couldn't be placed underground where people would walk above.
7. Above the fireplace in the Old Supreme Court Chamber is a clock that is set five minutes early at the request Roger B. Taney, the fifth chief justice of the United States, to promote promptness.
8. The half-dome shape of National Statuary Hall produces an acoustical effect whereby, in some spots, a speaker many yards away may be heard very clearly.
The official website is the best source for information regarding a visit to the Capitol Building.
Purpose of the many parks, medians, circles and squares that come with Capitol Hill is to provide urban greenspace within the City of Washington D.C. for relaxation, aesthetic enjoyment, and historic commemoration.
I think I would miss a lot if I hadn't strolled around the Capitol Hill. Of course, you may get to the historic district just to see the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court or the Library of Congress, but take some more time there to see the human scale architecture, the old houses, the neat front gardens, the tiny stores, people going about their daily business...
This is a different "face" of Washington D.C. that makes you realise the city is not just about the U.S. governmental bodies, memorials and crowds of tourists - some people actually live there :-)