Sunday, November 30, 2008
Shortly after 9/11, the eastern grounds of the Capitol were walled off. Part of that had to do with security. Another piece of it was that a new visitors' center had to be built to funnel the mobs of tourists away from the halls of Congress where, people told me, it was really hard to work because of all the people.
It was so hard for we citizens of Capitol Hill to be cut off from the Capitol. That convenient and beautiful space was one of our favorite places to walk our dogs, picnic, hang out on nice days. Though tourists did venture around the building to the east side, most of them stayed on the more photogenic west side. The east side of the Capitol was the place where those of us who live here could commune with the icon that anchors our neighborhood. Being cut off from that space had many of us in quite a huff. The first year after the walls went up, my Christmas card featured a picture of the Capitol with a "keep out, no admittance" sign pasted on top of the dome.
Initially we were told that all the construction would be complete within a couple of years, but are these projects ever finished on time? Never!
The years passed. I can't speak for my fellow Hillizens, but I at least got used to being blocked from the eastern grounds. I detached myself from the Capitol, started spending more time at the river, or on the western grounds with all the tourists.
Sometime last week, the walls came down! Yesterday was my first foray onto the grounds on my side of the Capitol in seven years. The feng shui connection between the Capitol and the neighborhood of Capitol Hill is restored!