Library of Congress, Washington DC

Exterior view of the Library of Congress

Exterior view of the Library of Congress

The Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington DC is one of the most ornate buildings in the city. It was opened in 1897.

The incredibly ornate entry hall to the Library of Congress

The incredibly ornate entry hall to the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress also includes 2 more buildings (built much later). All 3 buildings are near the Supreme Court and the Capital.

The main reading room of the Library of Congress.

The main reading room of the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800 when President John Adams signed a bill providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington.


The original library was housed in the new Capitol until August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building, burning and pillaging the contents of the small library.

Bust of Jefferson in white marble

Bust of Thomas Jefferson

Within a month, retired President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. Jefferson had spent 50 years accumulating books, “putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science”; his library was considered to be one of the finest in the United States

mosaic floor

The library is the second largest library by collection size, with the largest being the British Library.

painted ceiling with light shining through windows of dome above

Official Library of Congress website. The Thomas Jefferson Building and public exhibitions are open to the public from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Saturday (longer hours for official researchers).

stained glass skylight

Stained glass skylight

stained glass skylights

The other photo shows a close up of one of the stained glass windows seen here.

Related: National Museum of the American IndianMagical Day at Glacier-Waterton International Peace ParkBoston Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science

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