Page images



ering nearly 32 acres of ground, with four large inner courts, 150 by 75 to 100-ft. The height of the walls is 69-ft. The building is surmounted on all sides by a carved balustrade.

The plan and arrangement are shown in our diagram on a succeeding page. It consists of a great central rotunda, which is the reading-room; from which radiate book-stacks, and which is inclosed in a parallelogram of galleries and pavilions. The building material employed is for the exterior walls white granite from New Hampshire, and for the inner courts Maryland granite and white enameled bricks. The interior is rich in choice marbles from Europe, Africa and America.

The Exterior Decorations.

The Dome is finished in black copper, with panels gilded with a thick coating of gold leaf. The cresting of the Dome above the lantern, 195-ft. from the ground, terminates in a gilded finial, representing the torch of Science, ever burning.


The thirty-three windows of the corner pavilion and of the west façade have carved, in the keystone on the arch, heads representing Races the several races of men. These were prepared from material Men gathered by the National Museum. The types are, in order from the first one on the Entrance Pavilion: Russian Slav, Blonde European, Brunette European, Modern Greek, Persian, Circassian, Hindoo, Hungarian, Jew, Arab, Turk, Modern Egyptian, Abyssinian, Malay, Polynesian, Australian, Negrito, Zulu, Papuan, Soudan Negro, Akka, Fuegian, Botocudo, Pueblo Indian, Esquimaux, Plains Indian, Suomi, Samoyede, Corean, Japanese, Aino, Burmese, Thibetan, Chinese.


The Bronze Fountain, in front of the Entrance Pavilion, by Hinton Perry, is an effective composition representing the Court of Neptune, with conch-blowing tritons, sea nymphs riding sea horses ; serpents, frogs and turtles.

Each of the corner pavilions is adorned with twelve columns. The central pavilion of the west front, which is the Entrance Pavilion, has sixteen rounded pillars with Corinthian capitals. Just below the roof four colossal figures, each an Atlas, support a pediment, on which are sculptured American eagles, with supporting figures of children. In the circular windows of the portico are nine Portico colossal portrait-busts carved in granite. They are, beginning on the north or left-hand as one approaches the entrance: Emerson and Irving, by Hartley; Goethe, Franklin and Macaulay, by Ruck


stuhl; Hawthorne and Scott, by Hartley; on the north end (not seen from the front) Demosthenes, and on the south end Dante, both by Adams.


The Sculptures over the Arches of the three entrances, by Bela L. Entrance Pratt, typify, on the left, Literature; in the center, Science; and on the right, Art. Each subject is represented by two figures. The symbols of Literature are the tablet for one figure, the book for the other; of Science, torch and scroll, and celestial globe circled with the Signs of the Zodiac; of Art, the sculptor's mallet and partly chiseled marble, and the painter's palette and brush.

The bronze doors of the Entrance Pavilion are described in

Section 1 following.

The Interior.


The building has three stories-the ground floor, the first or library floor, and the second or gallery floor. The ground floor, Ground where are the bookbindery, office of the Superintendent, receiving rooms, etc., is noteworthy for its corridors, wainscoted with American marble. The marble of the west corridor is a mottled blue stone, from Vermont; the south, red and white, from Vermont; the east, black and white, from Georgia; and the north, chocolate, from Tennessee quarries.

The usual entrance to the building is by the massive stairways of the Central Pavilion, and through the bronze doors to the Central Stair Stair Hall of the first or library floor. (See plan on third page fol- Hall lowing.) This is a magnificent apartment, pronounced to be unsurpassed by any other entrance hall in the world. It is lined throughout with fine Italian marble, highly polished. On the sides rise lofty rounded columns, with elaborate carved capitals of Corinthian design; while the arches are adorned with marble rosettes, palm leaves and foliated designs of exquisite finish and delicacy. The great height of this entrance hall, rising 72-ft. to the skylight, with its vaulted ceiling, and the grand double staircase, with its white marble balustrades leading up on either side, exhibit an architectural effect which may fitly be termed imposing. The newel posts of the stairway are enriched by beautiful festoons of leaves and flowers, and are surmounted by two bronze lamp-bearers for electric lights. The staircases are ornamented with twenty-six miniature marble figures by Martiny, carved in relief, representing in emblematic sculpture the various arts and sciences. This beautiful and spacious entrance hall has been described as "" a vision in

polished stone," and, taken in connection with the grand corridors and the richly decorated Reading Room, the Library may be pronounced the finest marble interior in America.


The central feature of the interior is the Reading Room, an octagRoom onal or nearly circular hall, 100-ft. in diameter and 125-ft. high, lighted by eight large semicircular windows, 32-ft. wide. This is designed to seat 250 readers, furnishing each a desk with four feet of room to work in. The desk of the Librarian and his assistants is centralized within the railing, commanding a view of every part of the Reading Room. Direct communication from the desk to the book-stacks is had by speaking and pneumatic tubes and automatic book carriers, also with the Librarian's Room and through the book tunnel with the Capitol.

Visitors are not admitted to the Reading Room on the first floor Visitor's for sight-seeing. To view the room one should scend by elevator Gallery or stairway to the Visitors' Gallery. (See Sec. 16.)

Other rooms on the first floor are the Librarian's room, Representative's and Senate reading rooms, Copyright Office, and special collections, like the Tower Library.

The galleries and pavilions of the second floor will be devoted to exhibits of engravings and other works of art, of which the Library has acquired by the Copyright Law thousands of examples; maps, of which there are 15,000; rare books, and other collections.

Radiating from the Rotunda are three great repositories or bookBook stacks-one on the north, another on the south, and a third smaller Stacks one on the east. The stack system, devised by Mr. Bernard R. Green, consists of a series of cast-iron frameworks supporting tiers of shelves, and rising in nine stories, of seven tiers each, to the roof. The stack is 65-ft. high, 112-ft. long, and 40-ft. wide. The shelves are of rolled steel, coated with magnetic oxide, and are as smooth as glass. The floors separating the stories are of white marble. The stacks are lighted by large windows of solid plate glass, without sash, each window being thus a single plate. The courts into which they look on both sides are lined from ground to roof with enameled brick of the color of ivory or porcelain, and the many windows (200 on each side) are constantly pouring a flood of light into every stack in which the books are shelved. Adequate provision is made for heating, lighting and ventilation. Dust, gases and other deleterious agencies are excluded. The conditions surrounding the books in the stacks are those altogether favorable to their safety and preservation.

Each one of the two large stacks has a shelving capacity of 800,000 volumes; the smaller stack, with room for 100,000 books, Capacity is devoted to the special collection of the Library of the Smith- Library sonian Institution.


"The book shelving now in the building," says the Superintendent's current Report, "is confined to the three regular stacks and the two tiers of alcoves in the Rotunda. It amounts to 231,680 running feet, or about forty-four miles, which will accommodate 2,085,120 volumes of books, reckoning nine to the foot. The capacity of the additional shelving, which may be placed in the first and second stories of the curtains of the northeast and south fronts, is about 2,500,0co volumes, and the ultimate capacity of the building for books, without encroaching on the pavilions, reading rooms, museum halls or other parts of the west front, or any part of the basement story or cellar, is therefore upward of 4,500,000 volumes, or somewhat less than one hundred miles of shelving."

There were in the Library of Congress on Jan. 1, 1897, an aggre- Number of gate of 748,115 books and 245,000 pamphlets.

Books now in Library

The stacks are connected with the Librarian's desk by telephones and pneumatic tubes. An ingenious mechanism has been perfected for delivering books from their places in the stacks to the Reading Room and to the Capitol. From the cabinet on the west side of the distributing desk in the center of the Reading Room, an endless cable for each stack runs down to the basement, across and up again through the stack to the top, and back again. The cable Book is driven by electricity, and travels at the rate of 100-ft. per minute. Carrying Apparatus To it are attached eighteen trays or book carriers. When a book is called for at the Reading Room desk, the slip is sent by pneumatic tube to the clerk in the book-stack; he puts the book into a receptacle, from which it is taken automatically by the book-carrier, and borne on to the cabinet, and automatically deposited there, the whole process consuming but a few minutes of time. In like manner the books are returned from the desk to the book-stacks.

For the convenience of members of Congress, the books which they wish to consult are sent directly from the Reading Room to the Capitol through a tunnel connecting the two. The tunnel is of brick; is 1,275-ft. in length and 4 by 6-ft. interior. Book-carrying trays pass through the tunnel, making the trip from one point to the other in from two to three minutes. Here, too, communication is had by means of telephone and pneumatic tubes.

[merged small][graphic]
[ocr errors]





The subject of the principal decoration is given with each apartment. The numbers refer to the sections of the text describing the decorations.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »