Travel

Tuesday Takes: Inside the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS. It seems as if all eyes, ears and news reports have been focused on the inner-workings of the Supreme Court in recent weeks. Politics and justice aside, here’s why taking a self-guided tour inside the Supreme Court is a must-see destination when visiting Washington, DC.

Politics & Justice Aside

No matter which side of the political aisle you stand, or even if you stand right smack in the middle, a visit to the Supreme Court is a place everyone should experience. While it is the heart of the nation’s judicial system, it is also an extraordinary building and well-worth visiting. Whenever we play tour guides, we always try to stop at the Supreme Court.

A Bit of History

In 1929 Chief Justice William Howard Taft (US President from 1909 – 1913) encouraged Congress to build a permanent home for the court. Prior to this time the court was actually housed inside the Capitol Building. That’s a pretty interesting tidbit, don’t you think? Not only about the court being housed inside the Capitol, but that President Taft became Chief Justice Taft. He was the 27th President of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice.

The Supreme Court of the United States.
Marble

What’s notably impressive about the Supreme Court is the marble. It is all about the marble. At the time of construction, $3 million worth of marble was acquired. Imagine what that would cost in today’s dollar. I checked. Approximately, $51,935,748. Congress authorized $9 million+ for construction costs but upon completion $94,000 was returned to the treasury.

It’s all about the marble.

Visitors to the Supreme Court might find these dollar amounts especially amazing, once they’ve actually seen the building in all its marbleized glory. Yes. That’s the correct spelling of marbleized. I had to look it up!

The Courtroom

The actual courtroom is surprisingly small. The entrance boasts red velvet curtains with gold braided tassels. It’s all about formality and reverence. And, quietness.

Supreme court
Red velvet and gold braided tassels.

The courtroom and other areas on the first and ground floors are open to the public. Although, I should clarify visitors cannot actually enter the courtroom. But one can get a good feel for the size while viewing from the entrance. There is also a small theater room on the first floor where a video about the history of the court plays repeatedly. It’s interesting and well-worth watching to glean a sense of the court’s historical significance.

Have you visited the Supreme Court?

  • Tuesday Takes. Each post in the series focuses on one or two plus photos, or possibly a video, from our travels, as well as the background story behind the photo(s). Tuesday Takes are shared randomly with no rhyme or reason as to why.
If You Go:
  • Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 to 4:30. Closed Saturday, Sunday & Federal Holidays
  • Due to a number of reasons, always check to ensure the court is open to the public on any given day
  • Address: One First Street NW – Washington, DC
  • Public self-guided tours
  • Closest Metro: Union Station & Capitol South
  • Street parking is very limited, closest garage is at Union Station
  • Security screening in place
  • No smoking
  • Cafeteria & vending machines
  • Gift shop
  • Restrooms
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