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Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill

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Capitol Hill : First-time visitors will be forgiven for assuming Capitol Hill, the geographic and legislative heart of the city, is all about the majestic icon that sits atop its hill. While the U.S. Capitol -- with its towering cast-iron dome topped by the bronze Statue of Freedom, ornate fountains, and marble Roman pillars -- is no doubt the centerpiece of this area, there is more to Capitol Hill than its namesake building.

The Capitol Grounds is a lush landscape of sweeping lawns and more than 4,000 trees. At the base of the hill, the Capitol Reflecting Pool echoes the larger, rectangular pool at the other end of the National Mall. House and Senate office buildings surround the Capitol, while the Supreme Court, the three Library of Congress buildings, and the Folger Shakespeare Library & Theatre lie east.

But as you head east from the storied steps of the Capitol dome, the neighborhood turns into a lovely tangle of residential brownstone row houses, shaded by big, elderly trees teeming with gray squirrels. The center of gravity on the Hill is the Eastern Market. This covered bazaar and the surrounding blocks showcase local food, outsider art, handmade crafts, and a general bohemian vibe. Itís the place to be seen on weekends with families and friends.