National Historic Landmark: The US Capitol Building

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After yesterday’s egregious assault on the Peoples’ House and on democracy, I decided to repost my piece on the US Capitol building. A National Historic Landmark which survived the war of 1812 and the Civil War, it was defiled on January 6th by domestic terrorists, incited to violence by the sitting president of the United States, while the world watched. This is NOT who we are as Americans and it is not OK.

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It’s been over ten years since we spent a day touring the many monuments and memorials in Washington DC while on a road trip to visit family in South Carolina. We went right to the Capitol Building’s ticket booth when it opened, but the day’s walk-up tickets were quickly distributed and we weren’t able to get in. Nowadays, you can reserve free tickets in advance through the Visitors Center online, through some private tour companies or through your senators or congressional representatives.

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Lesson learned in reserving DC tours in advance, we took some photos of the building and surroundings before taking a hop-on and off bus to see the monuments that don’t require reservations. Someday we will go back and take the tour.

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The Capitol building began construction in 1793 and was designed by a physician named Thornton utilizing a neoclassical architectural style. The cornerstone was laid by President George Washington.

2007_1123(010)The British set fire to it during the war of 1812, but heavy rains kept it from being destroyed and it was repaired. From 1850-1868, the building was expanded and a new dome installed to accommodate the growing number of legislators. In 1960, the last expansion brought the Capitol to its current size of over 175 thousand square feet.

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In 1960, the Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. From its steps, you have a great view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial across the National Mall.

Location: East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC 20004

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: 12/19/1960

Date of my visit: November 7, 2007

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37 thoughts on “National Historic Landmark: The US Capitol Building

  1. Well timed. As usual, you have great pictures. For the first time, I’m proud of Vice President Mike Pence for doing the right thing and for acting more presidential than whatshisname.

    1. Thank you for this. What a sad day for your great country but I have every confidence that this has now become the beginning of a new day towards that shining light on the hill.

  2. When we visited DC, we had tickets in advice (through our representative in Congress) for the FBI building, the White House, and the Capitol building. We ended up not touring the Capitol building because we were just too tired from all the walking – even though each tour was on a different day. I do want to tour the Capitol building sometime. But my lesson learned is to give a day’s rest after each day in DC as there is a ton of walking. I would also do the night tour of the DC monuments from our campground, Cherry Hill. DC is our nation’s showcase, with so much to see. These institutions embody our nation’s ideals. And yes, what happened yesterday was not okay.

    1. When my daughter and I visited that day many years ago, we did a lot of walking. We did use the hop on hop off, but often just wound up walking the distance between stops instead of waiting. We started off here at the Capitol and then made it the Jefferson Memorial on the other side of the basin and back again. We were supposed to visit this past summer for the NPTC convention, but it was canceled due to covid.

  3. I was reminded of our visit to Washington too after the events of yesterday. I just kept thinking how sacred the space felt and how clearly guarded it was, letting us know where we could and could not venture.

  4. Thank you Theresa. How appropriate to remind us today of the hallowed history of this building. We said that we would not return to DC until the Administration was changed and now we can look forward (after the pandemic) to a renewed appreciation of the symbolic importance to our democratic institutions.

    1. Thanks Don! We are hoping to attend the rescheduled National Parks Travelers Club convention in DC this summer. It was postponed from 2020 and the organizers worked hard to create a busy and meaningful itinerary, including tours of the White House and the Capitol. I hope covid will let up in time for us to go and appreciate our national treasures.

  5. Thanks for this timely post. Yesterday was tragic but at least it was awful enough to finally shut down a tyrant. Sadly many people still believe in the lies but hopefully soon they will see the truth.

    DC does look like a beautiful place to visit.

  6. Thanks so much Theresa. Perfect and needed. The assault on the nation’s capitol inspired by Trump will go down in the history books as a very dark day and as a reminder of just how far this President has sunk. Two more weeks. –Curt

  7. Agree totally with your first paragraph. I have visited the US so many times and have so many happy memories of those visits, but as we watched unfold at the Capitol Building I was overcome with despair. The values upon which the US was founded, and which should act as a beacon to encourage the world to be a better place, were defiled that day. If the US, with its proud history, can’t hold the line against this sort of thing, what hope for the rest of us?

    On a lighter note I couldn’t help chucking to read that, in 1812, the Brits’ attempt to burn the building to the ground was foiled by rain. As a nation we are obsessed by rain even though, in the grand scale of things we don’t have it too bad, so it was amusing to see that on this occasion rain really did mess things up. I guess we got what was coming to us!

    1. I was stuck in the office when we first heard. My coworkers are immigrants from Korea, Poland and Colombia. I grew up with my grandmother who came here as a refugee. We all believe in the promise of America. We scrambled to get a live feed that we could all watch and felt the same emotions as you describe. Shock, horror, despair, anger. Now we watch, we call our reps to voice our opinions and pray that this won’t happen again at the inauguration and that the people responsible will face consequences. And yes the British were foiled that day at the capitol, but I do believe they were successful at razing the White House during the War of 1812

      1. The War of 1812 was not one of my country’s finest hours. We should have learned from it that our imperial ambitions would end in tears. But we didn’t, and they did!

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