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The Library of Congress began in 1800 with a small appropriation to buy reference books. To replenish the collection that was destroyed by the British during the War of 1812, Congress purchased Thomas Jefferson’s 6,487 volume library. Since then the congressional library has grown into what is today the largest in the world. Along with the James Madison Memorial Building and the John Adams building, it currently houses more than 164 million items, from books to photos to recordings to maps and much more. Originally housed in the U.S. Capitol’s west center building, by 1886 it had run out of shelf space, and it was decided to move the library into its own building. The Thomas Jefferson building was completed in 1887 and was based on the design of the Paris Opera House. It is currently recognized as a premier example of the Beaux Arts style.
The oldest of the Library of Congress buildings, the Jefferson Building is known for its classic façade and elaborately decorated interior containing a collection of work by classically trained American sculptors and painters. In 1965 It was designated a National Historic Landmark.
- Meet your Smithsonian Associates Rep by the Information Desk, no later than listed start time.
- While there is metered street parking and several parking lots and garages near the building, space is limited, your best bet is using METRO.
Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson Building
10 First Street, SE, Washington, DC
Metro: Captiol South