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Inauguration day is every 4 years on January 20th to swear in the elected President and Vice President to their positions. The new President and their family will move into the White House while the Vice President’s family move into the U.S. Naval Observatory.
The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The term “White House” is often used as a metonym for the president and their advisers.
The residence was designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban in the neoclassical style. Hoban modelled the building on Leinster House in Dublin, a building which today houses the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature. Construction took place between 1792 and 1800 using Aquia Creek sandstone painted white. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) added low colonnades on each wing that concealed stables and storage. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set ablaze by the British Army in the Burning of Washington, destroying the interior and charring much of the exterior. Reconstruction began almost immediately, and President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed Executive Residence in October 1817. Exterior construction continued with the addition of the semi-circular South portico in 1824 and the North portico in 1829.
Because of crowding within the executive mansion itself, President Theodore Roosevelt had all work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. Eight years later in 1909, President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing and created the first Oval Office, which was eventually moved as the section was expanded. In the main mansion, the third-floor attic was converted to living quarters in 1927 by augmenting the existing hip roof with long shed dormers. A newly constructed East Wing was used as a reception area for social events; Jefferson’s colonnades connected the new wings. East Wing alterations were completed in 1946, creating additional office space. By 1948, the residence’s load-bearing exterior walls and internal wood beams were found to be close to failure. Under Harry S. Truman, the interior rooms were completely dismantled and a new internal load-bearing steel frame constructed inside the walls. Once this work was completed, the interior rooms were rebuilt.
The modern-day White House complex includes the Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building—the former State Department, which now houses offices for the president’s staff and the vice president—and Blair House, a guest residence. The Executive Residence is made up of six stories—the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The property is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President’s Park. In 2007, it was ranked second on the American Institute of Architects list of “America’s Favorite Architecture”.
Exploring the White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home by Katie Andersen Brower
Have you ever wondered what exactly goes on inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Sure, the president of the United States works and resides there, but do you know who helps keep this historic house running?
It’s no simple task, especially when there are important state events and foreign dignitaries—in addition to presidential pups, mischievous children, and even a couple of ghosts. And its Residence workers and first ladies make sure everything is in check and running smoothly.
Curious About the White House (Smithsonian) by Katie Waters
Everybody knows the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s the White House, home to US presidents, first ladies, first children, and even first pets! But aren’t you curious: why is the house white (and how many gallons of paint keep it that way)? Who built the place? How many rooms are in there and what are they used for? Where does the president work? Where does the first family live? Is there really a bowling alley in the White House? The lively text and interesting photographs in this fact-filled 8 x 8 will answer all these questions and more about daily life in the most famous house in America.
1,000 Facts About the White House by Sarah Wassner Flynn
Welcome to the White House! Go behind the scenes to get a 360-degree view of America’s most famous president’s residence, from how it was built in 1792 and the fire of 1812, to today’s state dinners, celebrations, celebrity pets, and more. Discover through 1,000 fun-to-read facts what it’s like to live and work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the quirky rules of the house and how the Secret Service keeps it safe. Find out how the kids who have lived there play, watch movies, and entertain friends. With a treasure trove of material from the White House Historical Association, this book presents a fascinating story of the building and the many people who have shaped its 225-year history.
Where Is the White House? by Megan Stine
The history of the White House, first completed in 1799, reflects the history of America itself. It was the dream of George Washington to have an elegant “presidential mansion” in the capital city that was named after him. Yet he is the only president who never got to live there. All the rest have made their mark–for better or worse–on the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Megan Stine explains how the White House came to be and offers young readers intriguing glimpses into the lives of the First Families–from John and Abigail Adams to Barack and Michelle Obama.
U.S. Naval Observatory
President John Quincy Adams, who in 1825 signed the bill for the creation of a national observatory just before leaving presidential office, had intended for it to be called the National Observatory. The names “National Observatory” and “Naval Observatory” were both used for 10 years, until a ruling was passed to officially use the latter. Adams had made protracted efforts to bring astronomy to a national level at that time. He spent many nights at the observatory, watching and charting the stars, which had always been one of Adams’ interests.
Established by order of the United States Secretary of the Navy John Branch on 6 December 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, the Observatory rose from humble beginnings. Placed under the command of Lieutenant Louis M. Goldsborough, with an annual budget of $330, its primary function was the restoration, repair, and rating of navigational instruments. It was made into a national observatory in 1842 by federal law and a Congressional appropriation of $25,000. Lieutenant James Melville Gilliss was put in charge of “obtaining the instruments needed and books.” Lt. Gilliss visited the principal observatories of Europe with the mission to purchase telescopes and scientific devices and books.
The observatory’s primary mission was to care for the United States Navy’s marine chronometers, charts, and other navigational equipment. It calibrated ships’ chronometers by timing the transit of stars across the meridian. Opened in 1844 in Foggy Bottom north of the present site of the Lincoln Memorial and west of the White House (see: Old Naval Observatory), the observatory moved in 1893 to its present location on a 2000-foot circle of land atop Observatory Hill overlooking Massachusetts Avenue. These facilities were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
The first superintendent was Navy Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury. Maury had the world’s first vulcanized time ball, created to his specifications by Charles Goodyear for the U.S. Observatory. It was the first time ball in the United States, being placed into service in 1845, and the 12th in the world. Maury kept accurate time by the stars and planets. The time ball was dropped every day except Sunday precisely at the astronomically defined moment of Mean Solar Noon, enabling all ships and civilians within sight to know the exact time. By the end of the American Civil War, the Observatory’s clocks were linked via telegraph to ring the alarm bells in all of the Washington, D.C. firehouses three times a day, and by the early 1870s the Observatory’s daily noon-time signal was being distributed nationwide via the Western Union Telegraph Company. Time was also sold to the railroads and was used in conjunction with railroad chronometers to schedule American rail transport. Early in the 20th century, the Arlington Time Signal broadcast this service to wireless receivers.
In 1849 the Nautical Almanac Office (NAO) was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a separate organization. It was moved to Washington, D.C. in 1866, colocating with the U. S. Naval Observatory in 1893. On September 20, 1894, the NAO became a “branch” of USNO, however it remained autonomous for several years after this.
An early scientific duty assigned to the Observatory was the U.S. contribution to the definition of the Astronomical Unit, or the AU, which defines a standard mean distance between the Sun and the Earth, conducted under the auspices of the Congressionally funded U.S. Transit of Venus Commission. The astronomical measurements taken of the transit of Venus by a number of countries since 1639 resulted in a progressively more accurate definition of the AU. Relying heavily on photographic methods, the naval observers returned 350 photographic plates in 1874, and 1,380 measurable plates in 1882. The results of the surveys conducted simultaneously from several locations around the world (for each of the two transits) produced a final value of the solar parallax, after adjustments, of 8.809″, with a probable error of 0.0059″, yielding a U.S. defined Earth-Sun distance of 92,797,000 miles (149,342,000 km), with a probable error of 59,700 miles (96,100 km). This calculated distance was a significant improvement over several previous estimates.
The telescope used for the discovery of the Moons of Mars was the 26-inch (66 cm) refractor (a telescope with a lens), then located at Foggy Bottom. In 1893 it was moved to the present location.
In November 1913 the Paris Observatory, using the Eiffel Tower as an antenna, exchanged sustained wireless (radio) signals with the United States Naval Observatory, using an antenna in Arlington, Virginia to determine the exact difference of longitude between the two institutions. Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station in operation
In 1934, the last (then) large telescope to be installed at USNO saw “first light”. This 40-inch aperture instrument was also the second (and final) telescope made by famed optician, George Willis Ritchey. The Ritchey–Chrétien telescope design has since become the de facto optical design for nearly all major telescopes, including the famed Keck telescopes and the spaceborne Hubble Space Telescope. Unfortunately, light pollution forced USNO to relocate the 40-inch telescope to Flagstaff, Arizona. There it began operations of a new Navy command, now called the Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station (NOFS). Those operations commenced in 1955, and within a decade, the Navy’s largest telescope, the 61-inch “Kaj Strand Astrometric Reflector” was built, seeing light at NOFS in 1964.
The United States Naval Observatory no longer obtains significant astrometric observations, but it continues to be a major authority in the areas of Precise Time and Time Interval, Earth orientation, astrometry and celestial observation. In collaboration with many national and international scientific establishments, it determines the timing and astronomical data required for accurate navigation, astrometry, and fundamental astronomy and calculation methods — and distributes this information (such as star catalogs) in the Astronomical Almanac, The Nautical Almanac, and on-line.
Perhaps it is best known to the general public for its highly accurate ensemble of atomic clocks and its year 2000 time ball replacement. The site also houses the largest astronomy library in the United States (and the largest astrophysical periodicals collection in the world). The library includes a large collection of rare, often famous, physics and astronomy books from across the past millennium.
USNO continues to maintain its dark-sky observatory, NOFS, near Flagstaff, Arizona, which also now oversees the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer. The Alternate Master Clock, mentioned above, also continues to operate at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.
Since 1974, a house situated on the grounds of the observatory, at Number One Observatory Circle, has been the official residence of the Vice President of the United States, and is therefore subject to tight security control enforced by the Secret Service. The house is separated from the Naval Observatory, and was formerly the residence of its superintendent, and later the home of the Chief of Naval Operations.
According to a 15 May 2009 blog posting by Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, Vice President Joe Biden revealed the existence of what Clift described as a bunker-like room in the residence. The bunker is the secure, undisclosed location where former Vice President Dick Cheney remained under protection in secret after the September 11 attacks, according to Clift’s report, titled “Shining Light on Cheney’s Hideaway”
Quietly situated on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) in our nation’s capital lies Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the vice president of the United States. Built in 1893, the handsome and stately Queen Anne-style home is surrounded by a forest-like setting, complete with lush greenery, wildlife, and the serene sounds of nature, yet sits just footsteps away from the bustling traffic on Massachusetts Avenue.
From never-before-seen photos to candid conversations with former vice-presidents, family members, political power players of their time, and others – Charles Denyer brings to life untold stories and memorable moments of the three-story, green-shuttered mansion covered in layers of off-white paint, and the people who were privileged to call it home.
The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Though no longer at the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol forms the origin point for the district’s street-numbering system and the district’s four quadrants.
The original building was completed in 1800. It was partly destroyed in the 1814 burning of Washington, then was fully restored within five years. The building was later enlarged, with the addition of a massive dome, and extended wings with expanded chambers for the bicameral legislature, the House of Representatives in the south wing and the Senate in the north wing. Like the principal buildings of the executive and judicial branches, the Capitol is built in the neoclassical style and has a white exterior. Both its east and west elevations are formally referred to as fronts, though only the east front was intended for the reception of visitors and dignitaries.
Since the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the ceremony has been held at the west front of the United States Capitol facing the National Mall with its iconic Washington Monument and distant Lincoln Memorial. From 1829 through 1977 most swearing-in ceremonies had taken place on a platform over the steps at the Capitol’s east portico. They have also been held inside the Old Senate Chamber, the chamber of the House of Representatives, and the Capitol rotunda. The most recent regularly scheduled inauguration not to take place at the Capitol was the fourth inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, which was held at the White House.
Over the years, various traditions have arisen that have expanded the inauguration from a simple oath-taking ceremony to a day-long event, including parades and multiple social gatherings. The ceremony itself is carried live via the major U.S. commercial television and cable news networks; various ones also stream it live on their websites.
When a president has assumed office intra-term the inauguration ceremony has been conducted without pomp or fanfare. To facilitate a quick presidential transition under extraordinary circumstances, the new president takes the oath of office in a simple ceremony and usually addresses the nation afterward. This has happened nine times in United States history: eight times the president has died while in office, and once the president resigned.
Secrets of Our Nation’s Capital: Weird and Wonderful Facts About Washington, DC by Susan Schader Lee
Let’s visit Washington, DC—and learn some cool secrets about America’s capital! This book goes behind the scenes to uncover a treasure trove of little-known facts that will fascinate both kids and adults. Find out about the ghost cat that lives in the Capitol basement, why a bust of Lincoln has only one ear, which famous memorials live on the National Mall, and so much more. Word searches and short quizzes throughout make this fun compendium of history and trivia extra enjoyable.
The Capitol Building by Janet Piehl
The Capitol Building is a busy place in Washington, D.C.! Government leaders meet there to make our country’s laws. Just what does the Capitol Building look like inside? And what is the story behind how the Capitol was built? Read this book to find out! Learn about many remarkable sites in the Famous Places series – part of the Lightning Bolt Books™ collection. With high-energy designs, exciting photos, and fun text, Lightning Bolt Books™ bring nonfiction topics to life!
We added a printable to go with our lesson, which includes the three branches of government, capitol, white house and the constiution