US archives

This was my last day in DC. My flight out was scheduled for 5.55pm so I had some time to enjoy DC for a little bit longer. Julie and I both wanted to visit the Archive of the United States of America so we went there after breakfast and check out (Julie was staying in a hotel near Georgetown for her last night).

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Archives of the United States of America

When we arrived, there was a queue going out the door and around the corner! It wasn’t clear to us if it was a line for the general public or if they were people who had prebooked tickets. Entry is free, but it is possible to reserve tickets online. From outside the building we had a quick look on their website and found that there were no more reserved tickets available for today. We had walked past most of the queue and near to the door looking for signs to explain what to do but couldn’t see anything. We asked a lady in the queue and she explained that she was with a school group and so are most of the other people in the line. She was happy for us to join them and go in sooner.

Just to check what was happening inside, I walked to the front and through the doors. A security guard yelled out, “Oi, where did you come from? Get back out there!” I tried to explain that I was only trying to make sure we were in the right place and she said yes we were and we can go back and queue with everybody else. It was a bit scary, and she kept telling me to go back out there where I came from. I went back outside and we slipped in with the school group. We only had to wait 5 minutes which was great, but I was worried the security guard would recognise me and kick us out. Fortunately she was distracted as we went through so we made it in.

Once inside we went to the theatre where there was a brief introduction to the archives giving an overview of everything that is there. The highlights for us were to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, but the archives have all sort of records going back to the 1800’s. After the video we queued up to view the three main documents. They’re kept in a large circular room with a high dome ceiling and murals painted around the walls. One mural depicts the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the other depicts the signing of the Constitution.

The actual documents themselves are on display in glass cabinets around the edge of the room. No photography is allowed, in order to protect the documents from camera flashes, and security controls the number of people going in which is really good because it gives more space to see the documents without having to fight through crowds. They’re all very big documents, on paper which is poster sized. The writing is very curly and in some cases very faded. The documents were all produced within about 15 years of each other but it was interesting to see the difference in quality of the text in terms of how much it has faded.

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Bill of Rights

It was difficult to read the Declaration of Independence, but we were able to make out quite a lot of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Outside in the museum section there is also a clearer version of the Declaration of Independence made from an engraving that was made not long after the Declaration was made. This has been used recently to create clearer reproductions. It was quite exciting to be looking at documents that were created so long ago and that are so important to America. It’s great that they’re on display for the public to view.

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Signatures on the Constitution

We spent a little while taking a look at the rest of the exhibit, but it was mostly about the different resources available in the archives, such as photos, birth records, posters and newspapers, which we weren’t really interested in.

After the Archives we found another set of food trucks and stopped there for lunch. I had a yummy teriyaki chicken sub from a sandwich truck. After that it was time for me to head to the airport, so I said good bye to Julie and caught the subway back to the hotel to collect my bags. I hadn’t used the subway in DC yet. It’s a bit different to New York and is a smaller network. Since I only wanted a one way ticket it was a bit confusing to work out what to do. I had to look up my trip on a chart to see how many stops it was, then purchase a single use ticket for that value. It wasn’t too difficult, but a little confusing.

Back at the hotel I caught a cab to the airport. The flight was scheduled for just before 6pm, arriving at Orlando around 8.30pm giving me heaps of time to check into the hotel and relax before my big day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, the flight was delayed an hour so I had to wait at the airport a bit longer. Then, half an hour layer it was delayed a further hour! I went to TGI Fridays for dinner, and used the time to backup some photos and write a couple of blog posts, but it meant I didn’t get in at Orlando until about 10.30pm. Also, I would rather have spent that time in DC than the airport.

Once in Orlando I caught a shuttle bus to the airport, checked in (complimentary warm choc chip cookies!) then went straight to bed (it was a bit after midnight). I wanted to get up about 7.30am the next morning so I’d have time to get ready and get to Harry when the park opens at 9am to avoid the queues. I was very excited!

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