Photo Friday: National Capitol Columns

US Capitol Columns

This week’s photograph is of the National Capitol Columns, At the United States National Arboretum, in Washington, DC. I didn’t know these existed until I visited the Arboretum last weekend. It was a great find. Here’s the interesting history (from the USNA web site, linked above):

The columns began their life on the East Portico of the Capitol in 1828. They were quarried from sandstone near Aquia Creek in Virginia and were barged to Washington in the early days of our country, before the familiar Capitol dome was completed. Their stay at the Capitol was to be limited by an oversight. The dome of the Capitol, completed in 1864, appeared as if it was not adequately supported by the columns because the iron dome that was ultimately built was significantly larger than the dome that the designer envisioned. An addition to the east side of the Capitol was proposed to eliminate this unsettling illusion, but it was not constructed until 1958. More time would pass before the columns would come to their final resting place. It was not until the 1980s that Arboretum benefactor Ethel Garrett took up the cause of establishing a permanent home for them. Russell Page, a close friend of Garrett’s, and landscape designer visited the Arboretum in September 1984, only months before his death. He found the perfect site for them on the east side of the Ellipse where the grandeur of the columns would be in scale with the more than 20 acres of open meadow, a rarity in a built up city like Washington. The columns are set on a foundation of stones from the steps that were on the east side of the Capitol. Old identification marks from the quarry are still visible on some of the stones.

The columns are a great place to find Washingtonians and visitors exploring, which makes for great photographs to use in presentations when I talk about what it means to be able to achieve life goals through optimal health. Here are some more photos, enjoy.

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Ted Eytan, MD