The Library of Congress is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress, but which is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The library is the second-largest library in the world by collection size.

The Library of Congress moved to Washington in 1800, after sitting for eleven years in the temporary national capitals of New York and Philadelphia. The small Congressional Library was housed in the United States Capitol for most of the 19th century until the early 1890s. Most of the original collection had been destroyed by the British in 1814 during the War of 1812. To restore its collection in 1815, the library bought from former president Thomas Jefferson his entire personal collection of 6,487 books.

After a period of slow growth, another fire struck the Library in its Capitol chambers in 1851, again destroying a large amount of the collection, including many of Jefferson's books. The Library of Congress then began to grow rapidly in both size and importance after the American Civil War and a campaign to purchase replacement copies for volumes that had been burned from other sources, collections and libraries (which had started to appear throughout the burgeoning United States). The Library received the right of transference of all copyrighted works to have two copies deposited of books, maps, illustrations and diagrams printed in the United States. It also began to build its collections of British and other European works and then of works published throughout the English-speaking world.

This development culminated in the construction between 1888 and 1894 of a separate, extensive library building across the street from the Capitol, in the Beaux Arts style with fine decorations, murals, paintings, marble halls, columns and steps, carved hardwoods and a stained glass dome. It included several stories built underground of steel and cast iron stacks.

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Founded: 1800
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www.loc.gov
en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

Jared Halphin (2 months ago)
WOW! Just stunning. I do not think there are words to describe it. The architecture is absolutely amazing! I was geeking out about the architecture and history of this place. So fascinating and so much history here. Just...WOW! Definitely come here if you are in the DC area!
Carlos Pinto (6 months ago)
I don’t even have words to describe this place. It is AMAZING. You can go by yourself or take the guided tour. I’m definitely going back to actual read and live the experience. God Bless America
Mindy Gallina (6 months ago)
If you haven’t been, you need to go. The building itself sends you back to time when European architecture, the arts, and education held sway over science and technology. It’s beautiful to see and makes you want to be back in college so you can just sit inside the reading room for a moment. The movie National Treasure put this landmark on the map again, and it doesn’t disappoint. Even the bathrooms are pretty! To see Thomas Jefferson’s library up close is definitely a highlight of my visit to DC.
penguin rick (6 months ago)
This building is beyond verbal description... imagine you wanted to build a public building that would rival royal palaces around the world. That's this building. Go there. See it. Walk through it. I could spend months studying the relief carvings, alone. If you like architecture, beauty, art, extravagance, elegance, and/or history, please go.
Pither Temoteo (7 months ago)
That's so beautiful building to visit. It is an amazing place to see, especially because the building is really amazing. So many details you can see on the wall and selling. Also there are some exhibition about maps and culture. You can also see the very first impressed bible. It is supposed to be a fast tour.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.