Wednesday, September 22, 2010

State Capitol

Our next destination in DC is the State Capitol. We got tickets(free) ahead of time for the inside tour. We were running a little late and just missed the bus by a minute and then missed the subway by a minute as well. So when we got off the subway, we were on a dead run  . It was a little farther than it looked but we got there in time. Then wouldn't you know it, they were running a little late anyway. We first watched a short film that tells of how the country established a new form of government, highlighting the vital role that Congress plays in the daily life of Americans and introduces the building that houses the US Congress. We then took a tour. We all had earphones so we could hear the tour guide even if we were farther back in line. Luckily we were one of the earlier groups of the day as by the time we finished this tour, the crowds were getting bigger.

The Rotunda, where state funerals have been held since time of Abraham Lincoln
Many other historic events have been celebrated here as well

The Old Hall of the House now servers as National Statuary Hall

The Old Supreme Court Chamber 1810-1860
 On our own, we then toured the Emancipation Hall, which was named by Congress to recognize trhe enslaved labors and craftsmen who helped built the U.S. Capitol.

Bust of Sojourner Truth, abolitionist and women's rights advocate. This bust and one of Rauol Wallenberg, who helped save tens of thousands of Jews during WWII, are of two people who fought against oppression and are placed right in front of entrance to Emancipation Hall

Plaster Model for the Statue of Freedom that tops the Capital building

We also took a tour of the Capitol Grounds. The Capitol is set within over 58 acres of winding paths, memorial trees and beautiful plantings that changed seasonally. The tour guide not only gave some of the history of the landscaping but told us about the changes/additions to the Capitol building and how they adhered to the original architectural plans. The Capitol Visitor Center is the newest addition to the Capitol and was constructed beneath the East Plaza and completed in 2008. The guide,  Tom Fontana, who is actually the communications and marketing director and just does the tours once a week  was very knowledgeable and very interesting. He had worked at the Pentagon and his last day before he came to DC was 911. He carry's a piece of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon to remind him to keep things in perspective when times seem a little tough going.
Another interesting day of learning more about our country and its history.


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