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Visitor Center Ready for Its Kickoff Close-Up

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Almost two decades in the planning, the massive U.S. Capitol Visitor Center will open to the public this afternoon.

Located on the east side of the Capitol (the Supreme Court side), the center is linked to a new system that will allow tourists to make online reservations for their guided tour of the Capitol building. In the past, tourists often waited outside in long lines, exposed to the elements.

The center is intended to do away with lines and to provide shelter as visitors wait for their tours to begin. . Reservations may be made online at http://www.visitthecapitol.gov.

Entrance to the visitor center, which contains statues and exhibits, does not require a reservation. Visits to the center and tours of the Capitol are free.

The building opens to the public at 1 p.m. today. The reservation system for Capitol tours goes into effect tomorrow. In addition to the online system, reservations can be made through the office of a member of Congress. A limited number of same-day passes will be available at the tour kiosks on the east and west fronts of the Capitol or at the information desks on the lower level of the visitor center. .

For panoramic photography from inside the new center, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/dc.

-- Ashley Halsey III

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