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Capitol Dome Tholos – Pic of the Week

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The following is a guest post by David Mao, Law Librarian of Congress.  He has previously guest posted New Year’s Greetings, Justifying Speed, Food for Thought,  Another Trip Down Memory Lane2012 Burton Awards – Pic of the WeekShreddy: From the Office of the Law Librarian – Pic of the WeekFrom the Desk of the Law Librarian, The Law Librarian in London, and Rebellious Children and Witches.

Capitol Dome at night, with tholos lit
The Capitol Dome at night, with tholos lit. Photograph courtesy of Prints and Photographs Division.

Have you ever seen the Capitol Dome at night? You may have noticed lights at the top of the dome, right under the base of the Statue of Freedom.

According to two of my Library of Congress colleagues, “The Capitol Dome is topped by twelve columns encircling a lantern. The lantern is lit when one or both houses of Congress meet in night session. Although there is not a legal requirement for the night lighting or a record of when the lighting began, it is believed that the practice started in about 1864, when members lived in boarding-houses and hotels near the Capitol.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Capitol Dome and learned that four large bulbs light the Tholos (two for the House and two for the Senate).

And remember whenever the lights are on in the Tholos, we’re here for Congress.

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