Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Washington, D.C., has some stunning classical architecture, but none is grander than the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The LOC consists of three buildings: the Thomas Jefferson, the John Adams, and the James Madison Buildings. All three buildings are bordered by Independence Avenue on at least one side. The Jefferson Building, which is the first and main library, faces the U.S. Capitol.
In 1800, the LOC was established by an Act of Congress that also transferred the federal capital from Philadelphia, Pa., to Washington, D.C. Initially, the library was meant exclusively for the use of Congress, but over time has become a source for politicians and scholars alike. The original library was housed in the Capitol, but when the British burned the city in August 1814, they also destroyed the library. After that tragedy, retired U.S. president Thomas Jefferson donated his personal library--6,487 volumes and works--and the national library was born. To read more about Jefferson's legacy, go here.
What is striking about the Thomas Jefferson Building is the ornate architecture. This is the only building in the city I can think of that is so strikingly reminiscent of the beautiful architecture found throughout Europe, it is literally breathtaking! The building is open to the public and there is a wonderful tour that features stunning mosaics. Access is available to the reading rooms, but books cannot be checked out by the general public. The Library also features exhibitions and special events throughout the year. In the James Madison Building, you can see the Gutenberg Bible! Also be sure to check out the Library's prints and photos collection.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 3/08