One of the most recognizable structures in the world, one can 't say they're been to Washington D.C. until they have seen the White House. The home of the leader of the free world is open to the public five days a week from 10 – noon.
Originally known as the Executive Mansion, construction of the White House began in 1792 under the direction of George Washington. The structure was not completed until 1800, so ironically Washington is the only President not to live there.
The executive mansion was torched by British troops in 1814, during the War of 1812. The structural damage caused by the fire was repaired but the exterior sandstone walls were still black with fire damage. The walls were then painted white, giving birth to the nick name "The White House". An act of Congress made this the official name in 1902.
Every President has left his mark upon the White House. Thomas Jefferson added terraces to the east and west wings, Andrew Jackson installed running water, and Harry Truman added a porch. Bill Clinton's addition to the White House was an indoor-running track(Used to relieve tension and cheeseburgers).
In order to visit the White House, you must first pick up a free ticket from the White House Visitor Center located at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. During the height of tourist season, tickets are nearly impossible to get. Get in line by 7AM (the facility opens at 7:30) and you might have a chance. Ignore the scalpers that are selling free tickets.
Guided tours can be arranged by contacting your representative or senator. Be on the look-out for Wolf Blitzer or other famous White House correspondents. Due to recent developments in the news, the number of reporters that usually surround the White house have swelled dramatically.
The White House tour probably ranks high on a visitor's list of things to do while in Washington D.C., but the process to get tickets will definitely test your determination. The White House is open Tues. – Sat. from 10 AM – Noon, but you need to get one of the free tickets for admittance. Herein lies the problem, because tickets for that day's’ tours can only be picked up at the White House Visitors Center and they run out very quickly. Although the center opens at 7:30 AM, the line to get tickets starts to form sometime around five. Therefore most people have to be satisfied with seeing only the exterior of the White House. The Visitors Center has nice displays on the history of the White House to mollify the disappointed visitors who couldn't get tickets. Don't expect to get tickets for the tour if you arrive after 9 AM.
If you are lucky enough to get tickets, they will be stamped with the departure time of your tour. Bleachers have been set up on the Ellipse so visitors can sit until the tour staff collects them. The twenty minute tour consists of five rooms: The East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room and the State Dining Room.
The President's Garden
The lovely White House gardens of today and those that preceded them are the theme of the President's Garden organized by the White House Historical Association, the White House Curator's Office, and the Superintendent of the Grounds fo rthe White House in cooperation with the National Park Service. The exhibit traces the history of the White House grounds from the 1790's to the present day and displays more than 60 historic black and white and color photographs, paintings, documents and other illustrations from the past and present.
White House Visitor Center, 1450 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Open daily from 7:30am to 4pm. For more information cal the National Park Service at (202) 619-6350.