Visiting the White House in United States
As a symbol of government in the United States, thousands of people visit each year to the White House to get a glimpse of what life is like for the highest office in the land. The one of the most recognizable buildings in the world housed 43 different Presidents along with their families. George Washington was the only President to never reside inside the White House. Commissioned by the first President in 1792, the White House was not ready for occupancy until 8 year later when President John Adams moved into the unfinished house in 1800. Since then, construction has never stopped. Constant change has taken place in order to accommodate for new styles, comforts and technologies. Over the years Visiting the White House in United States, the White House has expanded and has become a venerable fortress to protect the valuable political figures that are constantly visiting.
132 different rooms occupy the White House as of today. These rooms are used for various reasons including the Oval Office and the Presidential living quarters. Overall, the White House averages around 6000 visitors per day with tourists being a small percentage of that amount. It is mostly filled with security guards and those involved in the process of running the United States.
When a new Presidential family is moved into the White House, the First Lady generally is in charge of decor and the general style of the White House. While most of the historical articles stay the same, trimming and certain bits of furniture can be changed to suit the tastes of the current First Family.
Because it is the home and office of the leader of the United States, there are many precautionary steps that are taken to ensure safety for everyone. While tours are open to the general public, requests must be submitted through a congressman in your state up to 6 months in advance. There is limited space so it is encouraged that applications are made early in order to accommodate for your party. Everyone in the tour group must submit their name, date of birth, social security numbers and country of citizenship. Upon entry, if names or information does not match up to the request, entry can be denied. Make sure the names on the application are double checked to avoid this problem.
The local congressman will generally have their own procedures on how to apply, but this is usually done via telephone or the internet. If one is from a foreign country, the request must be submitted through your embassy in Washington DC. There are no fees or costs in order to participate in this tour.
Everyone over the age of 14 will be required to show a form of photo identification. A government issued ID or a passport is generally accepted in this situation. Those under 14 must be accompanied by a guardian.
The tour begins at an entrance located on the corner of 15th Street and Alexander Hamilton Place NW. It is recommended that you arrive 15 minutes early for the tour and wait for it to start. If late, it is likely that you will not be able to take the tour.
For the safety of the President and his staff, there are a list of prohibited every day items that cannot be brought into the tour. These items include cameras, video recorders, bags, food, beverages, pointy objects, strollers, aerosol containers and weapons of any kind. Keys, wallet, cellphone and umbrellas are permitted, but the Secret Service has every right to confiscate these items if they pose a threat to national security. Leave all restricted items back at the hotel or they will be confiscated and discarded. Remember that the use of your cell phone is not allowed inside the White House even if they let you bring it with you. Photos are not allowed unless given permission by a White House official.
Those with disabilities who rely on assistance to walk can be loaned an approved wheelchair from the White House for the duration of the tour. For those with hearing or sight impairments, guide animals are allowed access inside as well. The White House did not become wheel chair accessible until 1932 when President Roosevelt took office. Roosevelt suffered from Polio and needed a wheelchair in order to get around.
Even with 32 restrooms, visitors are not permitted to use the facilities inside the White House so be prepared before going in. Those participating in the tour are given a chance to relieve themselves before and after the tour at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion which is not too far from the White House.
The President of the United States has a demanding schedule along with his staff. It would hinder their ability to conduct matters of national security and policy if they had tourists running around at all hours of the day. Tours are strictly limited to Tuesday through Saturday and can be cancelled at any time without notice. There is a 24 hour telephone number that can give you current information on the status of tours.
Security in the White House is not a laughing matter and is taken very seriously. The Secret Service consist of a group of very vigilant guards that swore an oath to protect the President and his family. Don’t joke around with these matters while in the White House. Just like an airport, saying certain words or acting in suspicious ways will result in detainment that can result in several hours of questioning. Those wearing inappropriate clothing can be denied entry. Just be reasonable. Don’t expect to get into the White House wearing a bathing suit or an offensive t-shirt.
With the children in your group, educate them on proper behavior prior to the tour. The Secret Service will not tolerate a game of hide and seek. Sit down with the youngsters in the group and give them a background and history of the White House. Being informed beforehand, the kids will be more engaged and interested in the tour. Let them know that it’s okay to ask questions and get involved in the process.
Everything in the White House is a part of history. Do not touch anything at all. Some of the objects inside are priceless artifacts that cannot be replaced. The repercussions of damaging something in the White House are unknown but it can’t be anything good.
The current President is known to be very receptive with the public so there is a chance that he may stop by your tour group and have a quick chat. Be mindful to be respectful and polite. There are severe consequences for assaulting the President so be mindful of this and avoid anything that can be misconstrued.
As a symbol of American architecture, the White House is the most recognizable building in the United States. More than 200 years of history within it’s walls can be seen and felt when walking through the halls of this presidential mansion. Take a second to see the detail and intricacy of the artwork.
If for some reason, you aren’t able to visit the White House, there is also another option. There are twin buildings also in Ireland and France that were built by the same designers of the original. The Leinster House in Ireland was built by the original designer, James Hoban. The second house is located in France by the name of Château de Rastignac that was built in 1817.