National Geographic : 1952 Aug
144 National Geographic Photographers B. Anthony Stewart and John E. Fletcher Busy as a Beehive, the Capitol Swarms with Senators, Representatives, and Sight-seers On "the Hill," hub of the Washington street system, stands the 287-foot Capitol, where the Nation's laws are made. Its original design was submitted in the 1792 competition by William Thornton, an amateur architect trained as a physician. Many changes have been made, including these 36 steps to the portico. building is one of ceaseless variety, conflict, and motion. Surrounding the formal halls where Senate and House of Representatives debate and de cide the Nation's laws are hundreds of smaller rooms-committee and office rooms; adminis trative, clerical, and utility quarters; exhibit halls swarming with visitors. A City in Four Walls "This is almost a city in itself," said the veteran Architect of the Capitol, David Lynn, whose numerous duties include the mainte nance, structural care, and improvement of the home of Congress. Wandering miles along the corridors, I could see what he meant. I caught glimpses of restaurants and kitchens, stationery, barber, and carpenter shops, ticket offices, disbursing and banking offices, post offices, and even dis- pensaries and the attending physician's office. As a footloose correspondent, I was per mitted to explore libraries and document rooms that serve the Members of Congress. I checked in at police headquarters to talk with officers who guard the Capitol and its 131-acre grounds. I saw reception rooms and private dining rooms where the President is enter tained on visits with congressional dignitaries. Beyond the steep galleries that look down on the sessions of Senate and House, I walked through rooms full of desks, typewriters, and telephones where reporters for daily press, periodicals, radio, and television turn out each day's grist of news (pages 180, 182). Yet, for all the stir and bustle, a spirit of history broods over the Capitol. It fills the air in legislative chambers that once echoed to the oratory of America's political giants, the bitter arguments of the "great debates."