{ subscribe_url: '/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/law.php' }

The Nation’s Capital in Spring – Pic of the Week

A tree blooms on the grounds of the Capitol.  [Photo by Betty Lupinacci]

A white magnolia blooms on the grounds of the Capitol. The snowplow under it does not trust that winter is over. [Photo by Betty Lupinacci]

Cherry blossoms are in full bloom.  Congress is busy with budget hearings.  All vehicles – no matter what color they were originally painted – are now yellow with pollen.  It is spring in the nation’s capital.

For the beauty of our immediate surroundings here on Capitol Hill, we must thank Frederick Law Olmsted (how can you go wrong with middle name like “Law”?), the prominent American landscape architect.  Olmsted designed no fewer than 550 parks and public spaces throughout the United States, including the grounds of the Capitol Building.

In the appropriations passed on March 21, 1874, Congress allocated $3,000 for a topographical survey of the Capitol grounds and also hired Olmsted to complete a design for the grounds. (18 Stat. 23)  Olmsted incorporated over 100 varieties of trees (mostly deciduous) and bushes, whose blooms hearken the spring.  Congress approved the continuing work on the Capitol grounds by appropriating $20,000 in April of 1876.  (19 Stat. 35)  The design and implementation of the expanded grounds – including the marble terraces surrounding the Capitol, the grand staircase, a brick “summerhouse” for respite from the sun, pedestrian and vehicular paths, and all of the landscaping – took 18 years to complete.

The image above is rather representative of the kind of weather we have been having lately.  While the tree is burgeoning with flowers, a snowplow with an attached salt spreader waits below for a radical change in the weather.

Works by Leon Battista Alberti – Pic of the Week

  A humanist and generally recognized as an uomo universal [“Renaissance man”], Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) is known for his works in painting, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, music, physics, philosophy, and cryptography.  The writing of the mysterious Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has even been attributed to him.  The Law Library recently acquired a compilation of his lesser-known works, simply titled […]

The Congress.gov Wall of Wonderful Feedback – Pic of the Week

I was at a Congress.gov meeting earlier this week where Jill MacNeice presented the results from a round of unmoderated Congress.gov testing.  During the presentation Jill showed this wall with responses to questions posed that included a heat map of where people clicked on Congress.gov.  Based on hundreds of responses received, Jill was able to draw […]

Foreign and International Legal Research Guides – Pic of the Week

  Happy Friday!  We’ve updated the links of our legal research guides for fourteen foreign jurisdictions.  These research guides provide a one-stop primer on the legal systems of foreign countries by providing links to reference sources, compilations, citations guides, periodicals (indexes and databases), dictionaries, web resources, free public web sites, subscription-based services, subject-specific web sites, and country overviews.  The […]

Stereoview of the Madison Building Closed Stacks

The Law Library of Congress is the largest law library in the world, and much of its vast collection is housed in the Madison Building’s sub-basement stacks. Whenever a patron requests an item that does not have “RR” at the end of the call number, our expert staff combs through our vast collection of over 2.5 million volumes to locate the item […]

“I’ll be damned if I don’t do it!”: The Failed Assassination Attempt on President Andrew Jackson

On January 30, 1835, an unemployed painter by the name of Richard Lawrence made the first attempt on the life of a sitting U.S. President. That damp, misty day, President Andrew Jackson had traveled to the Capitol Building to attend a Congressional funeral in the House Wing. As the President exited the funeral, he approached […]

Capitol Christmas Tree – Pic of the Week

One evening this week I paid a visit to the Capitol Christmas Tree, which is situated on the West Front lawn of the U.S. Capitol.  This year the tree traveled all the way from the Newport Ranger District of the Colville National Forest in northeast Washington state, arriving at the Capitol in late November.  It […]