Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

No, I haven’t died or come down with some mysterious ailment that renders my fingers (and nose–I could type with my nose if I had to) useless. I’ve just been busy. With life. It happens. Moving on.

Library of CongressWashington, D.C. is my single most favorite place in the world to visit. Think about it. I majored in history. My favorite eras in history are the United States’ Revolutionary War and Civil War, and World War II. Come on, people… you can see it in my travel interests. Well, except for the baseball field trips. But I’m not giving up my beloved baseball! Anyway, I’ve been to Washington, D.C. three times. First, in the summer of 1993 when my family took the most epic road trip (5,000+ miles, 31 days, two adults, four kids, one midget van); again in 2008 with Julie (my sis), Ethan (my bro), Adrianna (his wife), and Katie (our friend); and then again last year (2012). Sometimes I visit old favorites (the Jefferson Memorial, I’ve been there on all three trips), but there’s always something new to see and experience that I haven’t yet seen or experienced.

In March 2008, we all got out of bed early on Monday morning and set out to catch the rail into the city. Goal? Library of Congress. None of us had ever been there. (Yes, we had plans to see other stuff, too, but the Library of Congress was our first stop.) The line to get in wasn’t too bad. I think we waited maybe twenty minutes. I grew up down the street from Disneyland… a twenty minute wait is nothin’! When we walked in, I was immediately taken with the architecture–shocking, I know. Books be hanged! I was going to photograph everything that had nothing to do with books! (I own approximately 4,000 books, have read some of those well over 100 times, and am loud and proud bookworm, so that’s saying something!) Oh! The other thing I was struck by was the lighting. Brilliant use of natural lighting (the skylight, the portals, and the windows) as well as manufactured lighting (at the top of the columns and the rim of the vaulted ceiling).

Library of CongressIn the first photo, the statue was at the end of the staircase. I didn’t intend to shoot her in silhouette, but I did. Yeah, me! I tell you, I’ve managed to shoot more great photos on accident than I have on purpose. But you can see the illumination provided by the portals and windows as well as the manufactured lighting.

This second photo isn’t particularly inspiring, but it does show the skylight to which I referred. And the glasswork in the skylight is impressive as well. But look at the golden hues that run amok in this hall!

You know the phrase, “Go big or go home!”? I’m thinking the architects and designers of Washington, D.C. took that motto to heart back in the 1700s and 1800s as they set about building and designing everything. Glory be… the city is something to see. But seriously… you’ve just walked into the main hall of a library for cryin’ out loud. And this is what you see! And when considering the “Go big…” part of the quote, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Among its collection are: the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, one of only four perfect vellum Gutenberg Bibles known to exist, 1 million newspapers spanning three centuries, over 6,000 comic books, 4.8 million maps, 2.7 million sound recordings, the Betts Stradivarius, and the Cassavetti Stradivarius.

Below each portal are literary quotes, some attributed to famous authors and such–Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, other hoity-toity types–and some to anonymity. But all had to do with reading and learning. I have a picture of my sister-in-law standing in the Library of Congress, and when I put together our coffee table book, I grabbed the quote she requested I photograph. “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” Adri was awarded her Doctorate in Education two months ago, is an elementary school teacher, and is the daughter of two educators. How apropos, right?

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