Politics

21 Really Cool Facts About The U.S. Capitol You Probably Didn’t Know

Blood on the stairs?

When you visit D.C. this summer, remember some of these facts to sound SMART!

21. There are still ladies and gentlemen’s galleries labeled in the House of Representatives and Senate (from when gender segregation was enforced).

20. There are old marble bathtubs in the basement that senators used to take baths in.

Senators used to live in boarding houses in D.C. with no running water. Congress had these babies installed in 1859, so members would not smell as bad.

The tubs were some of the finest available at the time. They were hand carved out of a single piece of marble by craftsmen in Italy. Of the four tubs installed, only one remains.

19. When you see senators doing this…

…this is what they are seeing.

 

18. And when you see this…

Getty Images

…this is what they see.

 

And many of the interview rooms are not as glamorous as you think.

17. There are many elevators that YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE.

But the elevators in the Capitol are majestic, and some still have functioning rotary phones.

 

16. EACH vote is still tallied BY HAND even before the electronic vote is recorded.

 

And each amendment must be submitted in writing.

15. Getting high-speed internet into a 200-year-old building is not always glamorous work.

14. There are private subways that require a staff ID (but if your friend works in the Capitol they can take you!).

 

There is an adorable little cart that is controlled by a man with a lever.

 

It takes you to the Russell Senate office building.

And there’s also a newer, automated subway car.

 

Which takes you to the Hart and Dirksen buildings.

This car is faster and blows past every state flag on its way through the tunnel.

And unlike other subway systems, this one has artwork of George Washington and angels.

But ALL OF THIS is a sad step away from the original badass Capitol subway from 1909:

Because you could smoke on it.

13. The Senate chaplain’s office has a rare oval window…

 

…and it is one of the very few that still opens.

12. A reporter once shot a former congressman who attacked him over scandalous stories he had written that ruined his career. The shooting occurred in this stairwell and the permanent stains on the marble stairs are said to be the congressman’s blood.

 

11. Members of the House and Senate are privy to their own private dining services.

But if all of the cafés are closed down, you can buy a BIG AZ BURGER from a vending machine.

10. There is a private, locked chapel that is for the exclusive use of members.

 

According to the architect of the Capitol: “Its only purpose is to provide a quiet place to which individual senators and representatives may withdraw a while to seek divine strength and guidance, both in public affairs and in their own personal concerns.”

9. When you are done in Congress they just box your stuff up and wait for you to pick it up. Some stuff never gets taken.

 

8. There are miles and miles of underground tunnels that the public never sees.

 

7. If you ever want your name painted on wood, you should run for Congress.

 

Just remember that leadership is everything. (MUCH NICER DIGS!)

 

6. In the painting on the inside of the dome of the Capitol, Washington sits in the heavens as a deity.

 

5. The Capitol has its own crypt. It is called that because Washington’s body was SUPPOSED to be entombed here. They even had holes dug for a viewing chamber where you could walk by and see him! But Washington’s wishes were to be buried at Mt. Vernon.

And directly below the crypt there is a nuclear fallout shelter.

Speaking of the War of 1812, there is a painting in the Capitol of the CAPITOL BEING BURNED TO THE GROUND.

4. There are cat paw prints in the floor right outside the old Supreme Court chamber. There is no explanation for this since all the stone was set before it arrived at the Capitol, but some think the paw prints are the Ghost Cat of the Crypt.

 

3. There are many nooks and crannies above the dome where naughty interns have left graffiti.

We believe this is because of the stress caused by the Running of the Interns.

 

2. Being a reporter at the Capitol isn’t all that bad. You get your own painting shout-out:

1. “All roads lead to the Capitol” since it is the dividing center for quadrants of the city.

And the views from the balconies are spectacular.

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