Photo Tour :: US Capitol Visitor Center

The Dome of the Capitol viewed from the US Capitol Visitor Center. (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)

The US Capitol Visitor Center. (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)

Day Three of Julie O’Connor’s Magical, Mystical, Masonic Photo Tour of Washington, DC, and we find ourselves looking up through the glass of the recently renovated US Capitol Visitor Center at the dome of the Capitol Building.

The new security checkpoint for tourists entering the Capitol Building is located deep within the recently completed subterranean visitor center, beneath a magnificent glass skylight that frames the Capitol Dome. Newly hired security guard Alfonso Nuñez carefully studied the male visitor now approaching his checkpoint.

Chapter 4, The Lost Symbol.

A few interesting facts about the Capitol Visitor Center and its relation to The Lost Symbol:

  • Throughout its history, and until quite recently, visitors to the U.S. Capitol could enter the building directly. After 9/11, a more secure visitor’s entrance was planned. It was under construction from 2002-2008, and opened only about a year before The Lost Symbol was published. The Capitol Visitor’s Center was deliberately placed underground in order not to block the magnificent approach view of the Capitol Dome. Most details in The Lost Symbol appear to come from the 2003-6 period, when Dan Brown seems to have written much of the basic text of the book. The reference to the Visitor’s Center is one of a handful of allusions to 2008-9 realities that appear to have come from a more recent round of editorial updates to the book.
  • The Capitol Visitor’s Center really does connect the Capitol building to the Library of Congress through a very long tunnel, just as Dan Brown describes in The Lost Symbol. The use of the tunnel between the two buildings in The Lost Symbol is reminiscent of Brown’s use of “Il Passetto” in Angels & Demons. Il Passetto connects the Vatican with Castel Saint’ Angelo, both of which were important scenes of action in Angels & Demons, just as the Capitol and the Library of Congress are in The Lost Symbol.
  • According to some Washingtonians, the biggest running joke in The Lost Symbol starts in this scene where security guard Alfonso Nuñez is watching the Washington Redskins in an NFC playoff game. One wag has called the idea of the Redskins in the playoffs as proof positive that this is a work of fiction.
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