From the train, we could see fog wafting up from the Potomac and that the ice floes were visibly reduced compared to yesterday. By day’s-end we carried our heavy coats in temps that almost reached 70°F, and on our return trip there was still fog and the floes had become chips (almost).
Leaving the subway station, we walked by this Temperance Fountain. Am I the only one to find it ironic that the city cut off the water quite some time ago, so that the water sponsor Henry D. Cogswell hoped would slake the thirst of potential liquor-drinkers was no longer supplied? And when the monument was relocated in 1987, it still wasn’t reconnected. Of course, the overflow was no longer needed for a horse trough, either!
At one of my first stops in the Newseum, I discovered blooper-tiles in the ladies with headlines you probably don’t remember.
This one, however, you may well remember.
I also learned that this thrice-weekly got the scoop over the weeklies when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This was still two days after the signing…. Only nineteen copies of this historic front-page survive.
After lunch the overcast had thinned and we climbed Capitol Hill. And it is a hill. The visitor center is on the other side; we looped to the left, climbed, then descended to the VC entrance.
We took the next tour, which focused on frescoes by Constantino Brumidi (he began them in 1855). During the tour, we got a chance to see the views to the west, down the mall toward the Washington Monument.
We saw glorious Brumidi frescoes in Senate hallways, although his best-known work in the Capitol building is the ceiling of the rotunda. Brumidi was paid a substantial $10 per day, which covered his assistant and their supplies, with Brumidi taking about half. He augmented this salary by doing outside commissions. He did most of the ceilings, leaving the walls to his assistant, our guide said.
If you can tell the lower part of the left wall is darker, it is because restorers have left overpainting to show how the original work was obscured. The restoration was finished on this hallway about two years ago, and removed tobacco-smoke stains along with layers of added paint.
Leaving the Capitol we crossed to our enjoy the façade of the Supreme Court, also looming over DC on Capitol Hill. To help your eye with the scale, I’d estimate that the “normal” door opening is about 1/5th the height of the doorway in the stone.
On our way back to catch our return train, we passed in front of the Library of Congress, and saw more Classical-inspired artwork that was installed in 1898 beneath the monumental staircase leading to the main, formal building entrance. The central bronze is Neptune flanked by his two sons and accompanied by a large frog and coiling sea-snakes(?). This composition is in turn flanked by a pair of Naiads/Nereids—sea nymphs; only the south one shown here. You don’t have to look closely to observe that sculptor Roland Hinton Perry was inspired by the Trevi Fountain figures.
Another fantastic and fascinating DC day!