Saturday was our chance to be tourists in D.C. for a day. We did not have a set time we had to be home so there was no reason to not sight-see.
We conquered the Metro again despite the facts that they had one side of the tracks shut down at the Huntington station to landscape (!) and we had to change lines for the trip to the Library of Congress. As I said, we're pros now so we made it to our destination with no problems.
The Library of Congress is an absolutely beautiful building, both inside and out!
|Ginger Smith at the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C., October 22, 2011|
|Looking up from the floor of the Great Hall on the first floor of the Library of Congress|
We decided to do the self-tour, mostly because I didn't feel we would be able to hear the tour guide very well. It was Saturday, the place was very crowded, and those marble floors do make an echo. When my mother and I visited Los Angeles last year, we took a tour, and we were given headphones. The tour guide spoke into a microphone and we could all hear her very plainly on the busy streets, but it was not loud to others nearby. I believe the Library of Congress would do well with such a system. However, no one asked my opinion, so we made our way through the self-guided tour. We oohed and aaahed over the architecture and the murals. We did see the original Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz. We were mostly interested in the large casket-like cases they were in and the constant temperature and humidity at which they are kept. We went through a couple of exhibits: They had a recreation of Thomas Jefferson's personal library, which he sold to the government after the Congressional Library was burned by the British in 1814. His works are the core from which the present Library of Congress's collection developed. Another exhibit was "Exploring the Early Americas." And of course no visit to an attraction is complete without a stop at the gift shop. I was good and only purchased one magnet for my extensive collection.
On our next visit, we plan to get researcher cards so we can venture into the private hallways and research rooms.
In front of the building is King Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, and his court in the Neptune Fountain.
After leaving the LOC, we rode the Metro to the National Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station. It was lunch time, so we walked back down to the Old Post Office Pavilion.
After eating lunch, we got in line to go to the top of the Old Post Office Clock Tower and see the panoramic view. The wait was reasonable, and the views were fantastic! They had strands of wire hung in front of the window openings, so I did what any good scrapbooker would do: I broke the rules and stuck my camera lens right through those wires to get the shots! It was well worth my recklessness.
When we finished the Clock Tower Tour, we walked down to the National Archives. Whereas researchers enter NARA through the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, tourists enter NARA off of Constitution Avenue to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Again it was Saturday, so the line was quite long. Once we made it inside, there was still a 20-30 minute wait to view the documents and accompanying exhibits. A security guard shouts some information, instructions and rules to you; again, this site could make good use of a microphone. The items are set up in a half circle around the room, and one of the instructions was not to form a line and move across the room in one direction. They wanted visitors to just move back and forth to see the exhibits in no particular order. Well, this was pretty impossible unless you wanted to cut right in front of someone. It seemed very disorganized to me. After our turn at viewing, we went on to see some of the other exhibits they had on display and stopped by the gift shop to pick up another magnet.
It was getting late in the day and we still had a five hour trip ahead of us so we again took the Metro back to the Huntington Station and headed home. It was a fun day, full of some of the great things D.C. has to offer.
Now we just have to find the time to process all the genealogy information we gathered!