Historic Washington DC

When looking for historic Washington DC it’s easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History. Although we’ll point out other places worth seeing when they are nearby!

We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington’s beginnings or at least it’s historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it’ll give you a really broad insight in only three places.

Library of Congress

In 1800 John Adams, the President at the time, signed a bill describing a reference library of Congress, “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress – and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein…”

The suitable apartment turned out to be very lavish indeed…

Library Of Congress. Historic Washington DC
Library of Congress.

We didn’t know what to expect, although we had heard it was the most underrated tourist stop in the city.

As soon as you enter the Library of Congress your head tilts up. It was glorious!

Ceiling Of Library Of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
Ceiling in the Library of Congress.
Ornate Library Of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
Ornate carvings.

It’s all very Italian Renaissance.

When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places.
Lady lamps at the base of the stairs.
Inside The Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
Decorative glass ceiling.

1814 the invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building, where the original small library was housed, burning and pillaging it’s contents. Ouch.

Pillars Inside The Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
Pillars surround the upstairs balcony.

Retired President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library having spent 50 years accumulating books, “putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science”.

His library was considered to be one of the finest in the United States.

Jefferson’s eclectic collection of books resulted in a flood of books, pamphlets, maps, music, prints, and photographs being offered to the growing library.

Facing a shortage of shelf space at the Capitol, Congress excepted the need for a new building.

In 1873 Congress authorised a competition to design plans for the new Library and so this incredible national monument and “the largest, the costliest, and the safest” library building in the world was born.

Photographing The Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.

And it certainly is impressive!

Decorative Carvings Inside The Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
Ornate sculptured fruit.
Colourful Ceilings In The Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
Colourfully painted ceilings.

The Beautiful Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.

All the sculptural and painted decoration was achieved by more than 50 American artists.

When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it will give you a really broad insight in only three places...

To see the actual library i.e. where the books are, you have to queue to go up the stairs where you get to look down into the studious area.

Library of Congress, Washington DC. When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places.

Today it holds the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings. You can’t get in there readily. But as a tourist you view the actual library from above.

InsideThe Library Of The Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
The library itself.
The Circular Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
The library is circular.

Library of Congress. When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places...

Pretty cool heh?

A beautiful dome caps the library.

The dome of the Library of Congress. When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places...

The Books In The Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.
Where the books are held.

Library of Congress Is Part of Historic Washington DC.

Library of Congress, Washington DC

Back among the pillars upstairs, we found a room full of historic pieces on display.

It was a small but exciting exhibition ‘Exploring the Early Americas’.

They transport you into indigenous cultures, the dramatic encounters between Native Americans and European explorers and settlers, and the important changes caused by the meeting of these different worlds.

Library of Congress, Washington DC

Artefacts At The Library of Congress. When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places.

Old Book At The Library of Congress. When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places.

Exhibition at the Library of Congress. When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places.

I really loved these. There’s something about a beautiful map, don’t you think?

Old map at the Library of Congress. Historic Washington DC.

Ancient artefact at the Library of Congress. When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History.  We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places.

Enjoying the fresh air after our neurological explosion we strolled past the Supreme Court which was nearby.

Supreme Court. Historic Washington DC.
Supreme Court.

Outside The Supreme Court. Historic Washington DC.

Pillars Of The Supreme Court. Historic Washington DC
Imposing pillars.

Another short walk along and you’ll see the Senate offices.

Senate Offices. Historic Washington DC
Senate offices.

We fancied a coffee so popped into Union Station.

It was the first building to be made of white granite, previously only used for headstones (bit grim).

Union Station. Historic Washington DC
Union station.

This bronze bell, that sits in front of the station, is the Freedom bell, a replica of the Liberty Bell which symbolises Americas Independence, so well worth noting on our historic Washington dc day.

The Freedom Bell. Historic Washington DC.
The Freedom bell.

Annoyingly for us much of the inside of Union station was behind scaffolding on our visit. Tho’ the food and shop hall was still quite a sight.

Union Station Food Hall. Historic Washington DC
Union station food hall.

I thought it looked cool, especially in black and white…

Inside The Union Station Food Hall. Historic Washington DC

National Portrait Gallery

Hubby had a hankering for the National Portrait Gallery, so after a spot of lunch we head off there.

I have to say, I enjoyed gazing into famous faces, taking them in.

National Portrait Gallery. Historic Washington DC

This is the earliest know portrait of Thomas Jefferson.

He was President, but was also author of the Declaration of Independence, he was responsible for Religious Freedom in Virginia and also founded the city’s University. Good man.

National Portrait Gallery. Thomas Jefferson Painting. Historic Washington DC
Earliest known painting of Thomas Jefferson.

John Adams (saw a mini series of him once- it was good, look out for it).

He was George Washington’s Vice President and the President himself, tho’ proclaimed ‘No man who ever held the office of President would ever congratulate a friend on obtaining it’.

John Adams At The National Portrait Museum. Historic Washington DC.
John Adams.

A photograph of the unmistakable Abraham Lincoln and his faint, tired smile.

Abraham Lincoln. The National Portrait Museum. Historic Washington DC.
Abraham Lincoln.

Franklin Roosevelt was the President who was in office during the Great Depression. His economic measures changed the redefined the government’s role in American’s life.

He was very popular and got voted in 4 terms.

This portrait was around World War II when he would have been meeting Winston Churchill.

Franklin Roosevelt. National Portrait Museum. Historic Washington DC.
Franklin Roosevelt.

Nixon (you can’t admire them all..)

Nixon. National Portrait Museum. Historic Washington DC.
Nixon.

In other areas art expressed difficult times in American history.

Inside The National Portrait Museum.

Political Art At The National Portrait Museum.
Outside.
Inside Some Political Art At The National Portrait Museum.
Inside.

I recognised this crazy looking bloke. Albert Einstein was actually German but emigrated to America in the 30’s. He was good at maths.

Einstein At The National Portrait Museum. Historic Washington DC.
Albert Einstein.

Some faces meant nothing to me but I liked them none the less.

Likeable Face At The National Portrait Museum. Historic Washington DC.

We enjoyed this gallery. You should check it out if you get the chance. You’ll be amazed at how many time you say ‘Oh, look, it’s…’

Inside A Room Of The National Portrait Museum. Historic Washington DC.

National museum of American History

Our final trip out that day was the National museum of American History.

You get to see a lot of cool things here. Like this Huey, which served in Vietnam. They carried troops low and slow into battle landing in clearings barely larger than the sweep of their motors.

National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
Vietnam Huey.

Vietnam Section Of The National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.

Hubby took his time, connecting dates with English history and occasionally checking facts with me. Sweet that he thinks I retain information like he does – sadly I don’t, which is why I like to write things down, so I ‘erm’, tilt my head and even just stare blankly at him, until he works it out himself.

Past Wars. National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
War of 1812.

National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.

Abraham Lincoln’s hat! He was the first American President to be assassinated and in death became a martyr for National unity and equality.

Lincoln's Hat. National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
Abraham Lincoln’s hat.

You get to see things the Presidents children would have played with in The White House,

Presidents Children Doll House. National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
Dolls House of the President’s children.

and Michelle Obama’s beautiful Inauguration dress.

Michelle Obama's Inauguration Dress. National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
Michelle Obama’s Inauguration dress.

This yellow silk gown was worn by Jacqueline Kennedy at her first State dinner.

Jacqueline Kennedy Dress. National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
Dress worn by Jacqueline Kennedy.

 

National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
Muhammed Ali’s boxing gloves.

And I was strangely thrilled to see the original Elmo. I think he was thrilled to see me too.

Elmo. National Museum Of American History. Historic Washington DC.
Elmo.

We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the historic Washington DC. There are many many more galleries and Museums to visit within a small area. So, it’s a great city if you like this sort of thing. Which we do!

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When looking for historic Washington DC it's easy here to find a museum, a government building or gallery. They are plentiful, varied and not too far from each other. Our choices were the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National museum of American History. Although we'll point out other places worth seeing when they are nearby! We wanted to spend a day looking back to Washington's beginnings or at least it's historic past. You really get to understand a city that way. The sightseeing in this post is ideal for a weekend in Washington DC, as it'll give you a really broad insight in only three places...

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4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. That explains why you always go cross eyed when I get into the chronology of Roman Emperors! 🤓I’ll stick to favourite Dog breeds in future 🙂

    Great post HB 😉 x

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