Attractions

The National Archives Building

Located across 9th Street from the Justice Department, the National Archives houses the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Designed by iconic architect John Russell Pope, it was meant to resemble a gigantic vault, in which America's most treasured documents could be stored and showcased. Pope fought for the location of the building, which symbolically sits halfway between the U. S. Capitol and the White House and is in line with the U.S. Patent Office, an important early symbol of American ingenuity and independence (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum). The tallest of the 1930s neoclassical buildings in the Federal Triangle, it is decorated with hard carved pediments, allegorical sculptures, and massive Corinthian columns. Exhibits at the Archives range from letters written by George Washington to televised reports of the first moon landing. The National Archives is open daily and free of charge (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). For more information, visit the web site:

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The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

The FDR Memorial is located on the north side of the National Archives Building, across 9th Street from the Justice Department. An avid collector, Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the construction of the Archives building while President and appointed the first Archivist of the United States. He personally intervened to protect the integrity of the architect's design, sending a memo regarding the height of the roof. His commitment to preserving the historical record led him to press the Archives to include audio recordings and films as well as written documents. In 1941, three years before his death, FDR invited his friend Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter to the White House and told him "If any memorial is erected to me, I know exactly what I should like it to be. I should like it to consist of a block… placed in the center of that green plot in front of the Archives building. I don't care what it is made of, whether of limestone or granite or whatnot, but I want it plain without ornamentation, with the simple carving 'In Memory of". A simple marble marker now stands on the north side of the Archives, near the corner of 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, just as FDR wished.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The FBI headquarters building is located just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the north side of the Justice Department. Originally housed within the Justice building, the FBI moved to its current location in 1974. An example of brutalism, a style of architecture popular in the mid 20th Century, the building is named after longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Constructed entirely of poured concrete, it stands in sharp contrast to the traditional limestone and granite buildings of the Federal Triangle. The FBI was founded by a grandnephew of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Born in Baltimore, Charles J. Bonaparte was appointed U. S. Attorney General in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Upon taking office, Bonaparte discovered the Justice Department had no trained investigators to fight a rising national tide of crime and corruption. In 1908 he formed a special agent squad of 34 men and ordered the department's attorneys to refer investigative matters to them. Formally named the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935, Bonaparte's special unit has now grown into a force of more than 35,000 and is one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the world. The FBI headquarters building is currently closed to the public. For more information about the FBI, visit the web site:

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Center Market

In 1801, soon after the government moved to Washington, the city's first market sprung up near 9th Street and Constitution Avenue. Bounded on the south by Tiber Creek (now running beneath the pavement of Constitution Avenue), the site provided convenient access for farmers, fishermen, and peddlers to transport their goods. Merchants soon constructed wooden stalls to house their wares. Called Marsh Market because of its low lying location, it is said to have attracted Thomas Jefferson, who shopped here for his famous White House dinner parties. Other patrons included Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, as well as Chief Justice John Marshall and orator Daniel Webster. The area was subject to frequent flooding and swarmed with malarial mosquitoes in warm weather. In 1872, the level of Pennsylvania Avenue was raised to prevent flooding and the canal filled in to become a street. The old market sheds were torn down and a two-story red brick building erected, which was named Center Market. By 1890, it housed 1,000 vendors while local farmers sold their produce from wagons parked outside. As the city's largest retail market for meat, fruit, and vegetables, it continued to draw lawmakers, First Ladies, and presidents. President Theodore Roosevelt came with his wife on weekly trips and, according to the market superintendent, made "sly remarks about her buying ability." Center Market continued to operate until 1931 when it was demolished for construction of the National Archives.

Last Reviewed 2016-11-15