Visiting the New National Capital

Early books on America invariably depicted the Capitol as a new Athens./tiles/non-collection/2/2004_085_014-2.xml
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Early books on America invariably depicted the Capitol as a new Athens.
This seating chart of the House Chamber was available for sale at the publisher's stand in the Rotunda./tiles/non-collection/F/Floorplan.xml
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
This seating chart of the House Chamber was available for sale at the publisher's stand in the Rotunda.
This tiny guide had everything there was to know about visiting Washington in 1826./tiles/non-collection/W/Washington_guide.xml
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this Object
This tiny guide had everything there was to know about visiting Washington in 1826.
Between the Capitol’s recovery from the fire of 1814 and the opening of the 1857 wings, souvenirs most often related directly to the experience of being there—learning about the building and environs, and knowing who was who on the House Chamber floor. Development in the neighborhood around the Capitol was limited.

To remedy this lack of retail, the Rotunda hosted vendors, including local printmaker and bookseller Casimir Bohn, who sold Chamber floor plans and guidebooks to visitors. The floor plans indicate which Member was assigned to what desk, making spectating in the galleries—a popular way to spend a day in 19th century Washington—a richer experience.

The Washington Guide, printed and sold by S.A. Eliot in 1826 provided all the information a visitor needed to tour Washington. Landmark buildings were few, so the text goes into great detail about structures that did exist, as well as the varieties of trees and plants to be found in the city's many green spaces, and the fish that inhabited the Anacostia (or Eastern Branch) and Potomac rivers. Even detailed descriptions of the weather were included in this guidebook.