Supreme Court Building - Washington, D.C.
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member JimmyEv
N 38° 53.426 W 077° 00.282
18S E 326134 N 4306528
Quick Description: Designed by Cass Gilbert, the Supreme Court’s first (and only) building wasn’t erected until 1935. Inside you’ll learn about the building, the court, and it’s role in American government.
Location: District of Columbia, United States
Date Posted: 10/27/2007 1:35:40 PM
Waymark Code: WM2FV4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member The Blue Quasar
Views: 220

Long Description:

The first session of the Supreme Court of the United States of America was held in New York City during the year of 1790. It wouldn’t be until 145 years later, in 1935, that America’s third branch of government actually got its own building. Prior to then, the court had led a somewhat nomadic existence, drifting from New York to Philadelphia to Washington with the Congress, always seeming to occupy hand-me-down rooms from the U.S. Senate.

It was former President and then-current Supreme Court Chief Justice William Howard Taft that persuaded Congress to loosen its purse strings and appropriate money for the building. Taft chose the architect, Cass Gilbert, who had also designed the Woolworth Building in New York.

Gilbert oversaw the erection of a building befitting of the third branch of American government - a huge, neo-classical structure with massive Corinthian columns. The exterior was built with Vermont marble; Georgia marble was used for the courtyards; and the interior was made from Alabama marble. All of the interior wood detailing was done with American quartered white oak.

The huge bronze doors at the entrance each weigh 6.5 tons. You can only see them when the building is closed - they slide into wall recesses. The panels, depicting historic scenes in the development of the law, were sculpted by John Donnelly, Jr.

It’s easy to visit the building, easier than visiting any other Federal courthouse. Cameras are allowed in the building, something unique among Federal courts. And you can even wear shorts (chances are that if you’re wearing shorts the court isn’t in session). The truth is that the Justices rarely hear cases in their chamber. They take very few cases each year, and each case has an hour of arguments, at the most. Most of the Justices’ work is done in their offices, conference rooms, and the building’s library, areas off-limits to the public.

You enter the building into the Great Hall, lined with busts of every former Chief Justice. At the far end of the Great Hall is the Supreme Court Chamber. You can peek in if court’s not in session. If you e-mailed or called your congress person, and arranged for a tour, you can sit in the gallery and the docent will tell you which Justice sits in which seat.

Downstairs is a gallery, dominated by a sitting statue of John Marshall. Exhibits detail the history of the Supreme Court; some of the details only a lawyer could love. Don’t miss looking up into the spiral staircases - it’s a dizzying experience. If you want more lawyerly-things, there’s a gift shop and a cafeteria where you might rub elbows with some of the Court’s staff. But not the Justices themselves, they have a private dining room.

The "Official Tourism" URL link to the attraction: [Web Link]

The attraction’s own URL: [Web Link]

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm

Admission Prices:

Approximate amount of time needed to fully experience the attraction: Up to 1 hour

Transportation options to the attraction: Personal Vehicle or Public Transportation

Visit Instructions:

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