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Washington, DC

Getting There
Western Mall
Eastern Mall
Central Mall
The huge draw of the Eastern Mall is The Capitol Building. It towers over the whole mall, looking down from The Hill all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. The building is massive, and most Americans, indeed people from anywhere in the world, have seen it so often on tv and in the print media, that it seems bigger than life. Just as a tour of the White House is the prime experience on the Western Mall, a tour of The Capitol Building is the prime experience here on the Eastern Mall. But it's not the only building here, and to complete your Washington experience you should visit others. The first ones on your list should be the Senate Office Buildings. These cluster around the hill, across the street from The Capitol. They connect to it by underground tunnels. Walking the halls of these buildings brings you to the seat of power. Senators are the most influential people in America and you will pass their offices one by one, sometimes passing one or more senators in the hall. Shown here at right is the rotunda of the Richard B. Russell Senate Office Building, the original senate office building. As the oldest, it is the most ornate and traditional. It opened in 1909. The heavy hitters of the senate have or had offices here : Mitch McConnell, Teddy Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John McCain and Chris Dodd. It is the prestige address.
This is the Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building. The third of the senate office buildings, it was opened in 1982. It has nine stories and holds 50 senators with their staffs and meeting rooms, plus the official meeting rooms of three committees and six subcommittees. This building represents a break from the long Washington tradition of federalist or neoclassical architecture. It is distinctly more contemporary looking. On the second floor of this building a Special Hearings Room was included. It is the biggest of the senate meeting rooms, has state of the art acoustics, and is equipped with special indentations which allow media to cover hearings without intruding upon the proceedings. Whenever you see Senate investigations and confirmation hearings on television, this is the room being used. There is a central atrium in this building, with a huge mobile rotating slowly. Several movies have been filmed here, and this was the site of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Kentucky's Jim Bunning has his offices here, as do Joe Leiberman, Tom Daschle, Arlen Specter and Harry Reid. It is the furthest from the Capitol and is served by an underground tram.
The Everett Dirksen Senate Office Building is across the street from the Capitol Building, to your right as you approach the hill from Pennsylvania Avenue. It is connected underground by a walkway to the capitol. It opened in 1958 and was totally renovated in 2000. It lies between the capitol and the Hart building. The Dirksen Building is worth visiting because it represents the addition of Hawaii and Alaska, meaning we would have more senators and staff and need more space. It also became necessary as World War II ended and America found itself a world power, which required more staff at every government level. The Dirksen Building houses 20 senators, plus meeting rooms for three committees and three subcommittees. It was the second office building, handling the overflow from the original Russell Senate Office Building. Kentucky's Ben Chandler has his offices in this building.
The National Cathedral is definitely worth a visit. It is the sixth largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the second largest in the U.S., and the fourth tallest building in Washington. Tours are $5 per person and are led by a docent. This is officially an Episcopal Church and has conducted services every Sunday since 1912. But it serves officials of all faiths while they are in Washington, away from their home churches. Since the constitution forbids any mix of church and state, no tax dollars may be used for the National Cathedral. Instead, it relies entirely on donations. St. Albans School for Boys is headquartered here, and is famous for its choirs and singing scholarships. The St. Albans Mens and Boys Choir is one of the nation's most well known. Five church services a day are performed here, and the Easter and Christmas services are televised worldwide. The choir performs every morning and evening. Regardless of which religion you might be, or whether you are of any religion at all, this is one of the most beautiful buildings in the nation and deserves a visit. There is a great deal of history here, and as one of the few authentic medieval buildings in America, it is like a step back into Old England or Europe. It is located at the corners of Wisconsin and Massachusetts Avenue NW, meaning down off the hill heading in a northwest direction.
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