I had always had an interest in visiting the Library of Congress, but my interest had primarily been in the facility as the world's greatest repository of knowledge. So when we visited Washington, D.C. last week and I determined that where we were staying was fairly close to the Library of Congress, I decided to make a special point of visiting it. What I hadn't realized until our visit was what an architectural gem the building itself is.
I wound up visiting the Library twice during our stay, bringing my camera both times. Here is some of what I got during those visits.
First, a couple of shots of the exterior of this Italian Renaissance-style building, formally known as the Thomas Jefferson Building, that was first opened in 1897.
I thought the lone individual sitting on the steps helped to provide perspective in the above shot. Below is a detail shot of a bust of Franklin that sits above the building's main entrance.
If there is a space in the building that is in the public consciousness, it is the library's Main Reading Room. Access to that space is strictly controlled and is available only by reservation. What is available to the general public is a mezzanine area that overlooks the reading room. On our first visit to the library, the building was very crowded with visitors and there was a long line of people waiting to get to the overlook. However, on my second visit things were much quieter and for a time I had the overlook basically to myself. There is a glass partition between the overlook and the reading room, but it was not really an impediment to getting some good photos of the overall space.
Admittedly, it's a big space and I simply couldn't capture all of it, including the beautiful coffered dome, in a single shot. Here is more of a detail shot of one of the semicircular windows.
As beautiful as the reading room is, the Great Hall, between the main entrance and the reading room, with its ornate pillars and archwork, is even more dramatic.
And I couldn't resist taking a couple of shots of the ceilings, the first of a side ceiling and the second of the skylight directly above the center of the great hall, that I turned at an angle to incorporate more of the ornate surroundings.
The Library of Congress is a true national treasure, not just for the knowledge the building contains, but also for the architecture of building itself. A must see.