Capitol Tour - 11/11/09
Nov 11, 2009Public
Photo: A shot of the Capitol building. Lady Freedom gazes down at us. We will shortly be gazing at her. Note: The building atop Capitol Hill is spelled with an "o." Washington D.C. is the Nation's Capital (spelled with an "a"). But you knew that.
Photo: The new Visitor's Center is underground, so you want to enter a level or two below the Capitol building.
Photo: One of the most impressive signs I have ever laid eyes upon.
Photo: The dramatic centerpiece of what's called "Emancipation Hall" is this plaster version of Lady Freedom, which is placed atop the Capitol. It's the center's most obvious photo-op.
Photo: Close up. I like the "US" clasp and the starry headband. That bird hat is a bit silly, though, but that's classical style for you. If she were designed nowadays I suppose she'd be wearing a backwards baseball cap.
Photo: Wonder Woman!
Photo: A view of Emancipation Hall on a not at all crowded Veteran's Day. Normally I'm not a fan of lavish government spending, but this time I think it was probably worth it. The new facility is a far cry from what they used to do. This is much nicer, befitting the Capitol and what it stands for. The House and Senate displays (no photography allowed, sadly) were excellent. There is also a big cafeteria. I had a cookie.
Photo: Here's an amazing statue of Hawaii's Kng Kamehameha I. (Each state is allowed two.) I've always liked this one. You have to admire the audacity of a guy wearing a gold leaf loincloth in the august calls of the Capitol.
Photo: Utah has Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of the cathode ray tube and, hence, television. Here possibly he considers the crappy programming about to be made possible by his invention. Maybe he's thinking, "I ought to throw this thing into the Great Salt Lake before this whole television thing catches on."
Photo: Alabama contributes Helen Keller, inventor of countless Helen Keller jokes. Some thoughtful member of the public left behind a paper cup for the water.
Photo: Utah's other statue is Brigham Young, naturally. They would have included statues of the wives but that would have run Utah out of granite.
Photo: Robert E. Lee, one of Virginia's two statues. The other? Who else but George Washington?
Photo: I think the Lee statue in Richmond's Capitol building is better, however. I prefer the pose and facial expression.
Photo: This is Chief Washakie, from Wyoming. An impressive statue in the best of the modern style. (The states are allowed to replace statues every decade if they want.)
Photo: I liked this one of Jack Swigert. Once again, modern in a good sense. DO NOT TOUCH! We don't want fingermarks all over that white spacesuit.
Photo: The tour moved into the great dome. Photos cannot do it justice. Our guide said that if you placed the Statue of Liberty within it there would still be thirty feet from the top of the torch to the top of the dome (where Brumidi's "Apotheosis of Washington" is painted).
Photo: Congress commissioned this rather unsatisfactory statue of U.S. Grant for the great circular area under the dome. White marble doesn't photograph as well as bronze, and it's too heroic a pose for a man who was quite unaffected. I greatly prefer the Grant on horseback statue outside, facing the Mall. He's wearing a slouchy hat and faces South with a basilisk stare. Lee. Richmond. Gonna get 'em.

But I suppose it's the thought that counts.
Photo: The tour moved into the Old House Chamber.
Photo: The ceiling of the Old House Chamber. A domelet.
Photo: Clio, standing in a chariot, records history, bless her soul. (Somebody has to.) Old House Chamber.
Photo: Inset in the floor of the Old House Chamber. How many witticisms and snide remarks originate from this spot? And did Clio write any of 'em down?
Photo: While in the Capitol I also took the Brumidi Corridors tour. Here's our tour guide explaining things. I chatted with him a bit; a very knowledgable young man. He may be a more determined tourist than me... he compiled a spreadsheet of the sites he wants to see. That fellow in the black jacket was asking questions about the Architect of the Capitol's responsibilities as if he were interviewing for the position.
Photo: Brumidi's process was the difficult to master fresco painting, which involves infusing wet plaster with pigment, not something your average Thomas Kinkade Painter of Light (tm) can do.
Photo: From a Senate pamphlet...