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Annual Meeting
Don't Miss Washington's Tried and True
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 5 page 21-21

Some of the signature attractions of Washington, D.C., showed that they still can awe and inspire the nation when they were prominently featured in a recent blockbuster film. But adventure-film fans and those who aren't thrilled by that movie genre will find surprises in the city's best-known landmarks.FIG1

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Explore presidential history with a self-guided tour of the White House, available five days a week. 

Credit: WCTC

The White House, Capitol, Supreme Court, and National Archives were all featured in the popular "National Treasure" movies in recent years. Now visitors to the city for the APA annual meeting can enjoy their own up-close views of those and other famous sites and see just how impressive they are in real life.

Visitors to the highest-profile destination in the city, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., should start by investigating Abigail Adams' habit of hanging laundry to dry in the East Room, an activity that her ghost is rumored to still be carrying on. The White House offers self-guided tours from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free tickets for the first-come, first-served tours are available one month to six months in advance. Visitors are encouraged to submit their tour requests as early as possible. Tour information is available 24 hours a day at (202) 456-7041.

Any White House visit is enhanced by a stop at the Visitor Center at 15th and E streets, N.W., which is open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has exhibits on many aspects of the executive mansion, including its architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, and a 30-minute video about its history.

About a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue is the U.S. Capitol, which the public can visit only through guided tours. Intrepid visitors should ask about the local legend that a cat with glowing eyes haunts the grounds. Tours are available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free tour tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Capitol Guide Service kiosk located along the curving sidewalk southwest of the Capitol. Ticket distribution begins at 9 a.m. daily.

The ultimate venue of the third government branch is the U.S. Supreme Court building, located directly east of the Capitol on First Street, N.E. In addition to the famous carved front pediment of the building, visitors should check out the corresponding pediment on the rear of the building, which features the famous law-givers Moses, Confucius, and Solon. The building is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Supreme Court offers a variety of educational programs. Exhibits, which are changed periodically, and a theater, where a film on the Supreme Court is shown, are located on the ground floor. Lectures in the courtroom are typically given every hour on the half-hour on days that the Court is not in session, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.

Visitors normally can witness court sessions; however, the annual meeting occurs during one of the quieter periods for the Court, since it finishes hearing oral arguments in late April and does not begin releasing opinions until mid-May. But they can still revel in the historic grandeur of the building and pick up a souvenir or two.

Visitors to the National Archives should be sure to stop in the rotunda, where the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are permanently exhibited. The accompanying display describes the creation of the documents and their impact on the course of history.

Investigate the stacks and vaults of the National Archives through a tour called the National Archives Experience, which is offered daily without reservations beginning at 9:45 a.m. However, reservations at least six weeks before visiting are recommended for individuals or groups who want to make a self-guided tour of the archives. Reservations for self-guided tours can be made by e-mail to the visitor services manager at visitorservices@nara.gov.

"The Public Vaults" is an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to explore the raw material from which history is made, including UFO reports and declassified secrets from World War II. Other documents visitors shouldn't miss include the Emancipation Proclamation and Edison's first light bulb patent.

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Explore presidential history with a self-guided tour of the White House, available five days a week. 

Credit: WCTC

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