Thursday, August 22, 2013

I found my thrill... on Capitol Hill...

One of the most surprising things I discovered about myself on my trip to Washington, DC earlier this summer was the tremendous fascination I had with the Capitol Building. Sure, I had always thought the building appeared to be lovely, but pictures always made it seem somewhat uninviting and stale. When I first came upon the building during a quick drive through DC with N, I found myself strangely attracted to the building. I wanted to know so much more about it... When was it built? How is it organized? What are its secrets?

Lucky for me, my well-prepared coworker started working with her senator from her home state of Louisiana to get us tours for various venues well in advance of our trip. (Thanks, girl!) While our tour was given by a very young, very cute Senate staffer, we did get to randomly run into Rand Paul on our visit which was pretty neat. Our staffer met us at the Hart Building, and brought us to the Capitol through an underground tunnel via a tiny subway (pictured above). The tour was amazing! I could go on and on about all the stuff I learned, but I'll let you take a tour and see for yourself. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few of the pictures of some of my favorite parts of the tour so I don't totally spoil the visit : )

When it was originally constructed, the Capitol Building was going to be the center of Washington, DC. These kids are standing at the exact center of the building, which would have been the center of the city if the city designers had stuck with the original plan. It is also the spot where George Washington had originally been planned to be interred.

The Capitol Building houses a gift of a golden Magna Carta. This was given to the United States from the British government in celebration of America's bicentennial anniversary of its independence from British rule. Kind of interesting, no? One of the original four drafts of the actual Magna Carta can be viewed at the National Archives.

The Capitol Rotunda was our next stop, and was very impressive. Standing at 180 feet, the rotunda is used for major ceremonial events. Notice anyone familiar in the painting? Yes, that's George Washington! Random, right?

The rotunda houses several large statues of busts. These are primarily statues and busts of former presidents (including George Washington), but other prominent figures (such as Martin Luther King, Jr) appear there as well.

The old Senate Chamber was one of our last stops. Used from 1810 - 1859, this chamber witnessed various fierce debates on topics such as slavery, territorial expansion, and economic policy. It was the compromises made here that kept our then young country from going to war before the Civil War.

Our eyes were treated with a view of this gorgeous chandelier upon exiting the Old Senate Chamber. Our tour guide didn't offer much insight into this beautiful piece, but a simple Google search answered my questions (and dispelled the myths) regarding the history of it. Surprisingly, the chandelier was not present during the time the Old Senate Chamber was active... it wasn't added until 1965.

Hope you enjoyed these posts about my visit to Washington, DC. This has been such an amazing summer - I really don't want it to end. More posts to come about my other adventures! Stay tuned!

Until next time...

--- Becks

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