Due to a special event, on Wednesday, July 8, there will be no tours of the U.S. Capitol after 11 a.m. Emancipation Hall and Exhibition Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center will be unavailable all day. While reservations prior to 11 a.m. will be honored, same-day passes will not be available. The Capitol Visitor Center will close at noon except for individuals on official business and those going to the House and Senate Galleries.

A Gateway to the Capitol

When it opened in 1908, Union Station quickly became the primary entry to Washington. The terminal was among the first and finest achievements of the Senate Park Commission (also called the “McMillan Commission”), a board of design professionals determined to beautify Washington. The station itself was grand. Outside, however, a motley assortment of residences, hotels, boardinghouses, and taverns greeted visitors.

City planners and congressional leaders considered the area between Union Station and the Capitol undignified. They proposed clearing it to create a park. The project took $10 million and 30 years to complete (1910-1940). It required buying 18 city squares and demolishing hundreds of buildings. The new park was so successful that some wished to see the proposed Lincoln Memorial built there instead of its eventual site on the Mall.

History of Congress and the Capitol

The Capitol 1913-1945

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Proposed design for the Lincoln...
Image Caption

Proposed design for the Lincoln Memorial on the Capitol grounds, by Daniel Burnham, ca. 1910.

Proposed design for the Lincoln Memorial on the Capitol grounds, by Daniel Burnham, ca. 1910.

Architect of the Capitol

Proposed design for the Lincoln Memorial on the Capitol grounds, by Daniel Burnham, ca. 1910.

Proposed design for the Lincoln Memorial on the Capitol grounds, by Daniel Burnham, ca. 1910.

Architect of the Capitol

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