Visiting D.C. was a last-minute decision, so getting a tour of the White House was out of the question. But, I had to at least see the historic site in person since it was my first trip to the nation’s capital. If that meant standing outside with the hundred of other folks to take a photo of the heavily guarded presidential residence, then that would have to do.
Tucked in between the Treasury Building and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the White House is hidden from view by trees until you walk up to it. When my sister and I approached the White House, we noticed security only allowed people to stand across the street.
My sister noted that years ago when she first came to see the White House, she could stand behind the fence. But, with the recent number of fence jumpers, security has been stepped up. Plans are in place now to replace the 7-foot barrier with an 11-foot fence.
My first impression of seeing the White House in person was not what I expected. I thought it would be much bigger, but perhaps seeing it on TV through a long lens made it appear larger than normal. We were meeting friends for dinner and didn’t have time to see the other side. But, we returned another time so I could take a photo of the south side. I think the South Portico’s semicircular shape provides a more stately appearance, don’t you think?
Below is a photo of the Treasury building located east of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Buildings of ancient Greece and Rome inspired the design of the building. The Treasury Building houses the U.S. Department of the Treasury, responsible for all financial matters for the country. A statue of the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, stands at the north entrance.
Next to the White House is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. I thought this building looked more impressive on the outside compared to its neighbor. This building originally housed the Departments of State, War, and Navy. Now it is occupied by the President’s staff including the Vice President and his support staff.
Across from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue is Lafayette Square. Statues of historic figures sit at each corner and at the center of the park. The photo below is a statue of Lafayette, the French military leader who helped the United States achieve victory in the American Revolutionary War.
In the center of Lafayette Square is a statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback. A few replicas of the statue exist; one of them is in Jackson Square in New Orleans. It’s considered the first bronze statue cast in the U.S. and was created by a self-taught sculptor named Clark Mills. This link provides an interesting history of the statue’s creation.
Since we couldn’t get a tour of the White House, we visited the White House Visitor Center, located nearby and the next best thing. Inside the visitor center is a touchscreen display that allows visitors to explore the many rooms of the president’s office and residence. Besides a gift shop, artifacts from former presidents and a short film of previous occupants’ perspectives of living in the White House are available for viewing. Even without a White House tour, we were still able to get an insider’s perspective from the information displayed at the visitor center—a good alternative for impromptu visits!