The nations capitol. Whether you live in the US or not, this is one place you need to visit at least once in your life. Unfortunately, due to those nimrods who crashed those planes into the WTC and the Pentagon (let them burn in hell), there is a constant hightened security alert here. If you go during a level orange, you will not be able to see many things as you would at a yellow or lower. On a lighter note, the National Archives, all the war memorials, and the Presidential monuments (except parts of the Washington Monument) are all still open to the public.
The National Musuem of American History houses one of the most important and symbolic symbols of the United States. The "Star Spangled Banner", the flag that inspired our National Anthem. The Flag is displayed in all its glory, and major restoration and preservation has been undertaken on the flag.
Along with the Star Spangled Banner are major works of American History and the people who have helped shape our country. One of the exhibits I enjoyed most is of our "sports" icons. Muhammad Ali is one of my favorite atheletes (I love boxing) and a wax statue along with some of his original boxing memoriabilia is displayed.
There is a gallery dedicated to the "women of washington", China from the White House and its many Presidents, War memorbilia, pop culture, like the "Ruby Slippers" Dorothy wore during the filming of Wizard of Oz, Kermit the Frog and and few other things.
Like all the SI musuems in D.C., this one is also free.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
I was attracted to the US Capitol building because of its marvelous architecture, especially the Capitol dome that looks like marble but is actually painted cast iron.
Under this great cast-iron dome, Congress meets to shape law and policy.
The Dome can be seen from a great distance and has become a symbol of American democracy worldwide. It's been the center of Washington's political life since 1800!
The best way to really "see" the Capitol is to take the tour. On the tour you will be able to see:
Rotunda,Columbus Doors, Statuary Hall,
Supreme Court Chamber, The Crypt,
House of Representatives, Senate Chamber
If at all possible, schedule your tour during Congressional working hours and then you'll be able to attend Senate & House sessions or Committee hearing.
You'll have to write your Representative in advance to request a Visitor's Pass that allows access to chamber balconies. (Foreign visitors may obtain passes from the Doorkeeper of the House or Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.)
The tour is made up of 40 people per group and goes every half an hour. These tours go from 9:30-3:30.
I wondered about the statue at the crown of the dome, so when I took the tour, I asked about it. I was told that the statue is a classical female figure in her flowing robes and Roman helmet. The helmet has an Eagle's head to resemble the American Indian dress thus symbolizing America's first inhabitants.
"If there's a way to do it better. . .find it." Thomas A. Edison
Capitol Dome This painted cast-iron dome was added along with the Statue of Freedom in 1866. The statue on top of the dome is called The Statue of Freedom and faces the east (main entrance). This symbol of liberty is almost 20 feet tall and weighs about 15,000 pounds!
Rotunda At the top of the Rotunda is fresco called "The Apotheosis of Washington" and depicts America's first president, George Washington. It's quite impressive.
Senate Chamber is a semi circle of 100 seats that face a dais. 50 seats to the right are for the Democrats; 50 seats to the left are for the Republicans
House Chamber is the largest room in the Capitol. It is where the House of representatives meet and where joint meetings of the House and Senate meet.
Old Senate Chamber is the chamber that the Senate used from 1810-1859.
National Statuary Hall is the original House Chamber. Once the House moved, each state in the Union was asked to send two statues from their state. They are displayed here (most of them). There were too many for the space so some are displayed in the Hall of Columns.
Brumidi Corridors is an ornate passageway on the lower floor of the Senate wing. Contantino Brumidi designed these, thus the name.
Hall of columns (as seen in the photo) is a 100 foot long corridor with high ceilings and 28 fluted white marble columns.
Columbus Doors are 17 feet high with reliefs that picture Christofer Columbus's life and discovery of America.
Crypt is beneath the Rotunda which displays exhibits of the history of the Capitol. There is a sculpture of Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton emerging out of a marble block.
Take the time to stroll the Capitol grounds, a shady parkland by the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr, in the late 1800s. It now has 200 acres with 5,000 trees, a grotto, and a spring house.
This is a beautiful plaza dedicated to the men and women of the Navy Services. It has a beatiful east and west fountains that cascades into falls. The main plaza in round to represent the world and has the continents etched into the concrete. Surrounding the plaza are seats to sit and enjoy the memorial and on the outside are 3D sculptures that represent the history of the Navy. There is even a concert stage too! Yet, standing alone to side of the plaza is the life size sculpture of the Lone Sailor.
"Any man who may be asked what he did to make his life worthwhile, can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, " I served in the United States Navy"
~ President John F. Kennedy 1963 ~
This is Rayanna having fun on the bronze of the Awakening. You can walk down by the Potomac, and even have a picnic here if you so desire. Watch the planes land and take off out of National, and jog along the river.
"One man with courage is a majority." Andrew Johnson
One of the highlights of my visit to Washington in the 1990s was to visit the U.S. Navy Memorial. For me, it was quite an emotional visit because my father, who was a veteran of WWII, was recovering from a stroke. When I saw the Lone Sailor statue, I cried.
It is dedicated to all who served in the U.S. Navy since 1775. It is sculpted in bronze by Stanley Bleifeld in 1990. What makes it even more poignant is that this sculpture stands on a map of the world (the outlines of the countries are laid into the ground & protected by low walls).
There are 4 waterfalls & a group of flagpoles that complete this memorial.
Right behind this memorial is the Naval Heritage Center, which I visited for about 2 hours! It has exhibits on the history of the Navy, short movies about what is happening in the Navy now & in the past, & computers where you are able to look up a present or former member of the Navy. I brought a photo of my father in his uniform to submit with vital information. It was put into the computer for future generations to enjoy.
Ironically, a newphew of mine was looking on this sight and found the information about my father & was thrilled.
While there, I bought for my father a jacket that said "Retired Navy" & a hat that said the same. My father passed away in 1999.
The photograph is of the "Lone Sailor" statue on a magnet that I purchased for my mother, & she had it on her refrigerator until she died. It is now on my refrigerator.
This center is located right next to the US Navy Memorial. It has some beautiful etching of panels of the various historic naval ships over the years that grace the entrance walls. There in the middle of entrance graces a wonderful statue depicting a wonderful welcome home of a loved ones for their sailors return.
If you walk toward the stairs to a level below is where the main center is. There is lots of wonderful facts and exhibits for all to enjoy. I especially liked the US Presidents Room because in this room had portraits of our past Presidents when they served in the Navy, some you could guess right away, but a few were tough.
There is a wonderful gift shop too!
For any American or for any foriegner like me, a visit to the Capital Building should be mandatory for it here that you will learn of the essence of Amercian politcal life and history. Visiting the Capital is a great opportunity to see Congress at work. That said I should also recommend a visit for the simple fact that it is a really impressive building for its architectual merits alone.
A tour through the Capital begins in the Rotunda. This is a 96 foot wide circular room beneath a 180 foot high dome. On the walls are eight huge paintings that most Americans who have ever opened a history textbook will be familar with. Each painting of pivatol event in American history such as Cornwallis surrender to Washington at Yorktown.
The tour then takes you to the National Statuary Hall where early in the 19th century is where the House of Representive used to sit. The room is full of statues, two sent my each state that is supposed represent images their significant sons or daughters. Other than than these two important rooms I did not find that much of the rest of the tour that you take through the Capital really all that interesting. More fascinating was my visit to the two galleries where the wheels of government turn, that being the Senate and the House of Representives. These chambers can only be visited when they are in session. You must obtain a pass from your senator or congressman to enter these galleries. For foreigners like me, I had to go to the appointments desk on the first floor and present my passport. From there I visited the Senate first and saw Jesse Helms ramble on about something on the Senate floor. Oddly he was the only man in room. Even Al Gore, the VP at the time was not there. Atter watching this for fifteen minutes I proceeded to the House of Representives where things were much more lively. They were have an actual vote on whether or not to discuss an issue about interstate highways. Then they broke for lunch and so did I. All in all I found the whole experience very interesting.
The American History Museum is known as the nation's attic, one can just imagine the gigantic store room with all of the items not on display!
I enjoyed seeing some of the pop culture items such as Dorothy's ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz and Kermit the frog muppet. And like most other women who visit, I also really enjoyed the first lady inaugural dress collection.
Another favorite spot was the exhibit on transportation in Chicago, they had an old el train on display and several exhibits discussing urban transportation challenges in the US.
This was another wonderful find, while we chose to walk to many of the memorials. This located more or less on the front lawn of the White House or Ellipse. It is huge and does honor to all those who served the Second Divison through the years. It has many date and times of dedication. It is well worth seeing. It is beautiful and massive!
America has furnished to the world the character of Washington. And if our American institutions had done nothing else, that alone would have entitled them to the respect of mankind. Daniel Webster
Much of Washington D.C. centers on the National Mall. Affectionately called simply, "The Mall", it is a large strip of grass about two miles long and about three city blocks wide. It goes from the front steps of the Capitol to the edge of the Potomac River just beyond the Lincoln Memorial.
The Washington Monument stands in the middle of the Mall, about one mile from the Capitol. Beyond the Washington Monument, and just in front of the Lincoln Memorial, is the lovely Reflecting Pool.
There are so many monuments, statues, and museums along this wonderful strip of land that it is almost impossible to do justice to them all.
Besides Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, be sure to visit The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, The Smithsonian Museums, and the White House..
In addition, see the newer sites such as the Korean War Veterans Memorial, F.D.R. Memorial, DC War Memorial, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
These lists include most, but not all, of the sights/sites along the Mall.
The Mall provides a large space for walking and jogging. Throughout the year, exhibitions and festivals take place here and, of course, protests also take place on the Mall.
Photo from pamphlet
Pick up a plan in the rotunda and start the journey through the history of art.
This collection stems from the insight, and money, of Andrew Mellon, who avidly amassed great works in the 20's and 30's, and was later joined by other philanthropists in offering these works to the city.
See Leonardo da Vinci's only painting in the US, a small but lovely portrait of the young girl Ginevra de' Benci.
See Botticellis, Canalettos, el Grecos, Vermeers, Rembrandts, the Impressionists, Whistlers, and one of my favorite paintings, Fragonard's "The Swing".
My last visit was to see the traveling show "Goya's Women". I love Goya's work, and hadn't yet been to the Prado in Madrid, so was thrilled to see such a large collection in the States. Truly exciting show.
The museum has a fantastic bookshop and cafe on the lower level, which travels underground to the East Wing. Look for the waterfall under I.M. Pei's trio of glall pyramids.
This unusual building from I.M. Pei was built in the late 1970's, to house the museum's contemporary art collection. The entrance lobby has a stunning angular glass roof, and catwalks, and several major works hanging, including a Calder mobile, and a beautiful Miro weaving.
See Picassos, Lichtensteins, Pollocks, and most of the major artists from the 20th century, including a very interesting Anselm Keifer piece.
There are galleries for special exhibitions. Years ago I saw one here that included one of the two existing casts of Rodin's The Gates of Hell. It was so big they had installed it against a wall, within a split level gallery, so you started on the upper floor, then walked down the spiral stairs to the lower level, viewing the work top to bottom. Very clever.
In the tower of the building are several of Matisse's large paper cut-outs. The hours are limited here, as the paper needs to be protected against the sun.
A lively neighborhood, and student hub, with many little shops and restaurants, this is a must, whether you like sitting at a café, or searching for old records and used books. The park in the center is a great place to sit by a fountain and watch the people go by.
Home to funky boutiques, and many of the city’s nightclubs, it is also the main center for the gay scene.
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