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One of the most beautiful buildings in the nation's capital is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Built in 1888, it was known as the Old Executive Office Building. Today the building holds many of the offices that support the White House, including that of the Vice President. Historic meetings have taken place here, including talks between Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Japanese emissaries after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Tours are available Saturday mornings by advance reservation.
With its origins going back to 1791, President's Park is an important landmark in the nation and the capital's downtown area. Composing of the White House, White House Visitor Center, Lafayette Square and The Ellipse (President's Park South), it spans across 82 acres (33.18 hectares) of manicured land. Throughout the parkland you will find memorials, statues and structures that are an ode to the national history and its heroes. Managed by the National Park Service, it features two trails that lead you to various attractions within the park. The Northern Trail takes you to the White House North Lawn and visitor center, Department of the Treasury, Lafayette Park, Blair-Lee House (President's official guest house) and First Division Monument. The Southern Trial to The Ellipse, Haupt Fountains, National Christmas Tree and White House South Lawn. There are many activities for kids as well. These include Junior Ranger programs, interpretive walks and other special events.
Situated in front of the White House within President's Park, the Zero Milestone is based on Ancient Rome's Golden Milestone, and is the physical representation of the idea that all roads lead to Washington DC, the United States' capital. The initial idea was to record the distance to important places in the United States on the stone, but only certain locations within the DC area were ever engraved on the two-by-four block. The idea of the milestone was initially raised and supported by Dr. S.M. Johnson, who was a member of the Good Roads Movement, which called for paved roads across the United States. The Zero Milestone represents the starting point of the United States paved road system, which in turn can be seen as a representation of the unification of the United States.
This famous square is often the site of protests and rallies, primarily because of its proximity to the White House. Do not be surprised to find protestors on any given day, no matter what the weather. The square was named after the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general and a hero in the American Revolution. The park is beautifully landscaped and meticulously maintained. Of special interest is a statue of Andrew Jackson riding his horse.
The White House Visitor Center spans 16,000 square feet (1486 square meters) and contains dozens of artifacts. Although it's not located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it's as close as you can get to visiting the White House without obtaining a hard-to-get tour. Besides viewing artifacts, you can also take a virtual tour of the President's residence here. Admission is free, making it a great tourist destination for those on a budget.
A part of the President's Park, the Ellipse is a vast open space encircled by an oval trail. The park is home to a number of monuments, including the famous Ellipse Meridian Stone. Also known as the President's Park South the park doubles as an entertainment venue, hosting numerous local events including military pageants, musical events, garden tours and others.