Bustling with the business of government, Capitol Hill is also a destination for shopping, entertainment, food and drink, or simply strolling its handsome neighborhood streets. Approached from the west, the area begins with the meticulously landscaped US Capitol complex, which, in addition to the Capitol itself and its giant staff office buildings, includes the splendidly renovated US Botanic Garden, the stately Supreme Court Building, and the three buildings of the Library of Congress. Union Station, to the north, is filled with diverse shops and restaurants and is one of the finest railroad terminals in the world. Farther to the east, beyond the Capitol, lies the residential area, containing streetfuls of pleasing East Coast domestic architecture. Eastern Market on 7th St, SE, serves as a community center, and a pleasant walk farther to the east leads to Lincoln Park, with its outstanding memorial statues, beginning at 11th St.

Capitol Hill Residences

In the early 19th century, the area east of the Capitol was filled with a motley collection of boarding houses and taverns where members of Congress stayed during legislative sessions. During the 19th and into the 20th centuries, a diverse mix of housing styles – Federal townhouses, manor houses, Queen Anne, interspersed with two-story frame dwellings – developed. The protected Capitol Hill Historic District is now the largest historic residential district in the city.

  1. US Capitol

    Symbolizing both government power and the control of that power by the people, the Capitol crowns the east end of the National Mall .

  2. Library of Congress

    The world’s largest collection of books, documents, and sound and video recordings is housed in three huge buildings to the east of the Capitol. The architecture of the Jefferson Building makes it a tourist destination in itself .

    Library of Congress
  3. Union Station

    Opened in 1907, this magnificent Beaux Arts building is still a fully functional transportation hub. The lofty barrel-vaulted concourse, decorated with 70 lbs (32 kg) of gleaming gold leaf, is one of the great public spaces in the city – the Washington Monument, laid on its side, would easily fit within its length. Over 23 million people pass through the station each year. A $160 million restoration, completed in 1988, made the terminal an important retail and entertainment center, with over 130 shops, numerous restaurants, and a 9-screen cinema, as well as expanding its transportation role.

    • 50 Massachusetts Ave, NE

    • Dis. access

    Union Station
  4. Folger Shakespeare Library and Theater

    The Folger has the world’s largest library of printed editions of Shakespeare’s works, and fascinating displays give viewers an insight into Shakespeare and his times. There is also a huge supporting collection of Renaissance works in other fields, as well as playbills, musical instruments, and costumes. The elegant Neo-Classical building, a 1929 design by Paul Philippe Cret, is on the National Register of Historic Places .

    • 201 East Capitol St, SE

    • Open 10am– 4pm Mon–Sat

    • Dis. access

    • Free

    Folger Shakespeare Library and Theater
  5. Supreme Court Building

    The home of the highest seat of the judicial branch of the US government is a solid and handsome Neo-Classical building designed by Cass Gilbert – the architect of the beautiful Woolworth Building in New York City – and completed in 1935. On its west pediment, above the marble columns of the main entrance, is inscribed in bold letters the famous motto “Equal Justice Under Law”.

    • 1st St and East Capitol St, NE

    • Open Mon–Fri 9am–4:30pm except federal holidays

    • Dis. access

    • Free

    Supreme Court Building
  6. US Botanic Garden

    Long valued by Capitol Hill residents as a quiet retreat, the Botanic Garden conservatory is better than ever after its recent four-year restoration. The 4,000 living plants here are arranged into themes and biosystems, such as Plant Exploration, Jungle, Oasis, Medicinal Plants, and many others. The wedge-shaped National Garden, adjacent to the west, includes glorious outdoor displays in a water garden, a rose garden, and a showcase garden .

    • On the Capitol grounds at Maryland Ave and 1st St, SW

    • Open 10am–5pm daily

    • Dis. access

    • Free

  7. Bartholdi Park and Fountain

    Another oasis for Capitol Hill visitors, this immaculate park is bursting with flowers and ornamental plants. Its symmetrical design radiates out from the fine Gilded Age cast-iron Bartholdi Fountain, a three-story high construction of supple human forms, European-style lights, and a non-stop flow of water.

    • Independence Ave at Canal St, SW

    • Dis. access

    • Free

  8. Sewall-Belmont House

    Built in 1750 and expanded into its current mansion size in 1800, this house is one of the most historic in Washington. It is thought that one past resident, Albert Gallatin, Treasury Secretary for Jefferson and Monroe, may have worked out the financial details of the Louisiana Purchase – which nearly doubled the size of the United States – here. The house was the only private residence burned during the War of 1812 because only from here did Americans fire on the invading British . The completely rebuilt home was bought by the National Women’s Party in 1929 and remains their home today. Visitors can see the elaborate but homey period furnishings of the house’s past, as well as the museum’s fascinating collection of objects and documents fundamental to the suffragist and feminist movements in the United States, and the oldest feminist library in the US .

    • 144 Constitution Ave, NE

    • Open 11am–3pm Tue–Fri, noon–4pm Sat

    • Donation

    Statue, Sewall-Belmont House

    Hallway, Sewall-Belmont House
  9. Eastern Market

    Completed in 1873, Eastern Market has been a key element in Capitol Hill’s history. Designed by a prominent local architect, Adolph Cluss, the market symbolized the urbanization of the city at the end of the Civil War. Since then, it has served as a meeting place for residents, and recently as a focal point in the revitalization of the area. It has been repeatedly threatened with closure, and suffered a fire in 2007, but continues to operate.

  10. National Postal Museum

    The US Postal Service delivers over 600 million items of mail every day, and this ingenious museum manages to communicate the human scale of the system. The vast airmail system, with its thousands of employees, is shown to be based on individual pilots and airplanes. An interactive display enables visitors to dive into direct marketing and mail order, even designing their own advertising piece .

    • 2 Massachusetts Ave, NE

    • Open 10am–5:30pm daily

    • Dis. access

    • Free

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