Washington D.C. Day 7: More Parts of Capitol Hill

We awoke to a bright and clear day. After a late start (or later than planned), we took the metro to the capitol. Once there, I began taking pictures. I also recorded our walking route for posterity.

After walking around the capitol, we explored the Supreme Court building and took a tour of it. It has many gilded things (elevators, window frames, etc.). Photographing was prohibited inside the courtroom, which is sad because it has some neat features. The courtroom, with seven rows of pews, four in each side, was smaller than I expected. Above the room are Greek friezes: some allegories, some symbols, and some simply references to great lawgivers from history. For details, see these two PDFs from the Supreme Court's website: one, two. Above the bench is an intimidating clock with a second hand; I'm sure it puts lots of stress on the lawyers who come to argue before the court.

During the tour I learned that guests are seated in order of their host's seniority (the person who invited them). The press, sketch artist, marshal, clerks, etc. all have assigned seats.

The Supreme Court building had a good exhibit on Thurgood Marshall and court history. There was also a nice display on the lower level.

I didn't get to hear oral arguments because the Supreme Court wasn't in session this time of year.

We emerged from the Supreme Court to discover a bit of drizzle and lots of thunder. Unlike the previous day, this time we had umbrellas. We trotted to our next destination, the Folger Shakespeare Library. Beside its areas for educational and research work, it has a small, multi-level theater that was set up for The Tempest. The displays intrigued me enough to later look up the three-part documentary on Shakespeare in American Life. I listened to all three parts, enjoying the second episode the most. Give it a try if you're vaguely tempted.

We swung by the main Library of Congress building but found it had a huge line. We didn't wait. Instead, we looked at one adjacent building and then another, the James Madison building. My "off the beaten path" guidebook suggested going to the top to the Madison building's cafeteria. The book was right--the trip was well worth it. Though the cafeteria seemed closed, we went in anyway and found what we were seeking: panoramic windows (facing south). I didn't take any pictures because the sky was overcast, but it was still pretty cool.

In the Madison Building, we also found exhibits from the Library of Congress. Maps in our Lives showed the kind of maps we used in elementary school: for instance, a map of the world in simple colors wherein each country has a few icons for the kind of things they produce. There was also a holomap of Manhattan (subways, streets, neighborhoods) and maps of airline routes, ethnic distribution, fire control, natural gas pipelines, and even a cultural map of Wisconsin. All these map me think back to Tufte. (I read his books about how to present information visually.)

My parents then indulged me, letting me go back to the National Gallery of Art to see the rooms I missed on my earlier visit. I got to see Manet, Degas, Vuillard, a whole room of Picasso, and some other notable artists as shown in the pictures.

When we left the National Gallery, the sky was clear and perfectly sunny again. We walked to the Federal Triangle Metro, passing many marble-plated buildings on the way, but were in too much of a hurry to take pictures.

We took the metro to Foggy Bottom and walked to the Kennedy Center, passing George Washington University and the Foggy Bottom Farmers Market on the way. I recorded our route from the Foggy Bottom metro station to the Kennedy Center.

The Kennedy Center is a large, respectable-looking performing arts space. See the pictures.

While at the Kennedy Center, we found the Millennium Stage, a performance area that puts on free shows nightly. We happened to be there during a show by Tiny Ninja Theater. The artists used dime-store figures to perform an abbreviated version of Romeo & Juliet.

For dinner we headed to Herndon for one of our favorite restaurants, The Tortilla Factory. My parents have been going there since before I was born. They brought me there in a baby carrier after I was born. We've been going regularly ever since. It serves a kind of Mexican food that's so Americanized, I can't find anything like it in California (not even in the Americanized restaurants there). We returned on this trip and were satisfied.

On our way home, there was a steady rain with thunder.

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