tv American Artifacts CSPAN April 3, 2016 10:00pm-10:31pm EDT
recently traveled to long beach. learn more at our website, www.c-span.org. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend. each week, american artifacts takes viewers into the store sites around the country. takes usd historian inside the hart senate office building. is the new983, hart
as of the three senate office buildings. >> this is a separate building that is connected to this building, they are really two house of the same building. they are entirely different. , we are in the room known as hart 216. this room was specifically designed for television, and we are in one of the television booths overlooking the hearing room. this building is quite large. when they knew that the dirksen building wasn't going to be sufficient, they originally thought they would just replicate the dirksen building and build an identical twin on the other side. that wouldn't be sufficient, it
would not be large enough. what happened between when the dirksen building open and the hart building, was the u.s. staff tripled in size. part of that was a result of vietnam and watergate. up until then, the executive branch had provided most of the information that congress needed. when they felt they could not trust it, they felt the need for an independent staff. also, there were a series of legislative reforms in the every that allowed senator to have at least one staff person on each committee to serve. that was a big breakthrough. they created minority staff as well as a staff as a whole which became the majority staff. there are a number of cases where projects required hiring large numbers of new staff. there just was not room in the
russell building or the dirksen building to house them all. i came to the senate in 1976, across a street there were a series of apartment houses and old hotels of the senate had taken over, and staff and committee members were working in what had been apartment and hotel rooms. these rooms were not designed for heavy office equipment. you could not have a file cabinet with more than two drawers because the floor could not sustain it. they needed new buildings, so in 1976, the senate authorized the construction of a new building. it was named for senator philip hart of michigan. ironically, he was one of the senators who had rejected the naming of the russell and dirksen buildings. he felt it was too soon since they had died. a longer. , 25 years had gone by, say
could really tell a summer was historically famous or just famous at the time. but senator hart was well-liked. he was known as the conscience of the senate. while still living, the senate voted to name this building after philip hart. the building opened in 1983. it was empty for a while. newspapers had been terrible about writing stories saying there was extravagance, that congress should not be spending so much money on themselves. it was going to be a big building and had to house a lot of people. it had to be adjusted for the computer age. it was going to be expensive. it was going to house lots of visitors coming here, lots of constituents, lots of people who come here because of hearings that were going on. so, you had to have a large space. and it was going to be expensive.
but that could be used against you when running for office. in 1982, a lot of the political campaigns argued that the hart building was a terrible extravagance. senators were reluctant to move into the building. but the leadership prevailed on a couple of senior senators, people whom everybody respected , just stood head and shoulders above everybody else, and persuaded them to move into the building. henry jackson, of washington, for instance. by moving in here, even though he loved his office in the russell building, knew that he would give cover to a lot of the junior senators to be able to move in here. then the sergeant at arms came up with a better plan. he sent eviction notices to those due to move into this one. they were ordered to leave their offices and move into this building. but once they got here, they realized it worked much better
for modern senate staff. the floors, for instance, can be taken up quickly, and there are channels that run through here that computer wires can be put through. there were no computers when building the russell building or the dirksen building, but by 1983, the computer age had come. they also could take all of the walls of the building and not them down, reconfigure them, literally overnight, so if a senator left and another was moving in, they could do a quick turnaround in terms of getting up whatever the needs were of the senator was moving into the space. also, all of the staff of the senator would be in a two-floor suite with a small staircase linking them. they would not have to go out the hall or down the hall. they would all be in the same area. i have talked to senators who loved the russell building, and really liked being there, but admitted that the hart building
works better. and they moved over into this building just because it creates a more efficient working space. the hart building is also the least of the classical buildings. the russell building is very neoclassical. the dirksen building is sort of a mirror image of a neoclassical building. but the hart building is very modern. some people have compared it to an ice cube tray. senator moynahan, who lived on capitol hill, disliked a lot of the modern architecture and during the winter while they were working on the building, they covered it with plastic. in the spring, they took the plastic down and senator moynahan got the first look at the hart building, he went to the senate and introduced a resolution asking to put the plastic back up.
he also added a resolution saying, no more building should be constructed by the federal government for the remainder of the 20th century. but quite frankly, people have got used to the building over the years. it is a comfortable building. unlike the russell building that has an open-air courtyard, the hart building has a closed atrium. but it was a desperately empty space. when you came to the building before, it was a vast, empty space and they knew that they needed something in there to fill that space. the sculptor was commissioned to do something specifically for the space in the hart atrium. he created a combination space that he called "mountains and clouds." there was an enormous set of melons with a waterfall in the middle.
above it, there is a series of clouds that float. they used to float, eventually the motor gave out and they became stationary. they create a nice backdrop for the class pictures. that was constructed in the mid-1980's. thanks to a u.s. senator, nicholas brady, who raised the money privately. it's one of the largest pieces of public sculpture in the world. it was the very last piece of work that alexander did, because after he came to the senate to show the model he had prepared, he went home and died that evening. he never did see the finished sculpture. the hart building has 50 united
states senators in here, it has a large number of the staff. not so much in terms of committees, they are mostly in the dirksen building, but it has this central hearing room that's used for special occasions for large-scale hearings for things of really historic nature, where there will be a large audience. this is a room that will be familiar to people who watched many of the supreme court nominations from ruth bader ginsburg, to elena kagan, they have all taken place in this room. of the current justicies, five of the current justices have had their hearings in the hart building. >> i am humbled to have been nominated for this seat now held by justice o'connor. >> many major hearings have taken place here. this is where the 9/11 investigations took place, in this room. there have been many celebrities who have testified here.
christopher reeves, a hollywood actor came to testify for medical purposes, for federal government funding of medical research. we have had lots of blockbuster hearings in this room. >> when they can help save thousands of lives, treatment with stem cells have already begun. >> the old-school senators, like ted kennedy, and others who have been here a long time, they would hold their hearings in the russell building, even though this room was available. they just felt -- because watergate had been held there, and so many other hearings had been held there, that they were part of that historical trend. but, this room in the hart building has created a new historical stream of very famous events, major hearings that lots of prominent witnesses, lots of acrimony often between the senators and the witnesses.
even though this is the newest building, built only in 1983, it has already begun to establish a long history, and it will continue to serve the united states senate for a very long time. >> the plan made for operation iraqi freedom was even more innovative and transformational. employing an unprecedented combination of precision, speed, and flexibility. >> this space is just below an area that was supposed to be a gymnasium. one of the original plans had a gymnasium. at the time, because it with thought to be extravagant, they cut the money for the gymnasium and also for the restaurant on the ninth floor. they were services that would be provided. over the years, it became clear that senators have stressful jobs and they need to relax a little. there is a gymnasium on the house side.
it would probably be good for their health if they could unwind a little bit, so they did make an effort to put that gymnasium in. in fact, the architect of the capitol said that they already had the money, and could afford to do this. the senate voted to put the gymnasium in. and it created a firestorm out on the talk radio circuits, and people thought it was a terrible thing that they were going to waste federal money on a gymnasium for senators, and so it was blocked. one of the senators who blocked it, was a senator from wisconsin who, ironically, was one of the most physically fit members of the senate. he used to run every day from his home to the senate. and he kept in terrific shape for years, and here he was blocking the gymnasium for his colleagues. and part of it is because he was a fiscally frugal person. he is the man who started the golden fleece award, to look at
things where he thought the government was spending money it should not spend. but the senator got in the way of it, and blocked them building that gymnasium. and perhaps as retaliation, the senate chose to close down a small shower room which occupied space in the dirksen building, which happens to be the place where the senator took his shower after he ran into work every day. part of this was the sense that people are here to work and they should not be taking time off to exercise. i think it is a shame that the gymnasium was never built. i think members of congress and staff could have benefited greatly from that over the years, as they have in the house of representatives. i also think it is a shame that the restaurant was never constructed on the ninth floor. but that has created a very nice meeting space where members of congress and others have had
meetings in that place. in this building ever goes to waste. even though it is not what it was originally designed for, they will find some other good use for it. in fact, demands will come along that we have not anticipated in the building will have to be converted to meet those demands. the hart building is an unusually shaped building. one of the reasons for its unusual shape is that it was constructed to preserve an historical building that occupies one of its corners. that was at the corner of constitution avenue, maryland avenue, and 2nd street. is where you will find the national women's party house. this is a suffrage organization that operated to try to get the right to vote for women, and then for many years afterward,
lobbied for the equal rights amendment in the 1970's, they were out parading for equal rights amendment's that the house and senate passed and sent to the states that was not ratified by the states. but the hart building was built specifically not to demolish the women's party building. actually, the original building had been on the site of the supreme court, and that building had been demolished to make room for the supreme court. so, once was enough. the women's party felt they had given their all for the government at this point. the women's suffrage movement came and protested in the capital and at the white house, and over the years we have had many lobbying groups come through here. we have had protesters come through of different types. recently we have had code pink protests.
>> please clear the room. [shouting] >> please clear the room. >> everybody wants to make sure that their cause is being heard. but the fact of the matter is that the real way that causes are heard is through formal hearings, in which witnesses who are for and against come to testify. citizens are invited to testify, and these hearings are always open to the public unless dealing with classified information. but everything else is open, the public is invited in. these days you can watch the hearings on streaming, or on the internet, and you can come in person to watch the hearings. there is actually even an occupation that has been
developed, called line sitting. you will find students and retirees holding a spot on line, and just before the hearing starts, a well-dressed lobbyist will appear and pay them for holding their space. it saves them a few hours of waiting to get one of these spaces for the hearing rooms. if you go to the russell building, you will see several bronze plaques on the wall, indicating where presidents had their offices when they were senators. warren g. harding, harry truman, lyndon johnson, richard nixon. there are none in the dirksen building, but there is one in the hart building. there is a plaque upstairs indicating that barack obama held that office while he was a u.s. senator. the hart building itself became an issue in the news in 2001,
within a month after the events of september 11, a letter was sent to a senator in this building that contained a large amount of deadly anthrax. >> at about 10:30 this morning, my office opened a suspicious package. we can't go into the details, because this is an ongoing investigation. just as soon as it became clear that there was a suspicious substance in the envelope, we contacted the capitol police and the capitol physician. i will have more to say about our own circumstances in the office after dan nichols of the capitol police, and dr. john isel, our capital physician, speak to the contents of the letter itself. >> thank you, senator. i am lieutenant dan nichols, a spokesman for the capitol police.
as the senator said, this morning a notice was received in his office which contained a powdery substance. there was an exposure when the letter was opened. following protocols, the staff contacted the police. the officers responsed to the scene, isolated the situation. according to our protocols, we conducted field tests. the first field test came back as positive for anthrax. in order to confirm that, we did a second field test, which also came back positive for anthrax. >> they hope that it can be contained in a small area, but after a day or so they began to be concerned that it could not be contained. so all of the senate staff who work in the building were required to come to this room to have themselves swabbed, to test
to see whether or not there were any chance they might test positive for anthrax. within three days, everybody was assured that they were not. no one in this building became ill because of it, although two postal workers died as a result of the incident. because of that, security increased enormously around the capital. now, the building was actually shut down for three months, very abruptly. half of the u.s. senators operate out of this building. they had to find someplace else to go. a lot of them roomed with their colleagues from their states. republicans and democrats alike shared offices. committees moved in with each other. the senate historical office went over to the senate library were nine people went around one desk with one computer and one phone. we operated like that for months. after that we did a series of interviews with people to find out what the experience had been like.
what we discovered was that there was an enormous amount of camaraderie because everybody was operating out of these really confined areas. crowded into rooms. people brought in cake and cookies during the days. there were lots of office parties. afterward, people felt nostalgic about going back to their offices and losing that sense of community that had existed. sometimes crises bring out the best in people. but this was the largest building that was ever decontaminated. a large squad of federal workers, both from the military and medical facilities, came through here to decide how to clean the building. after three months, we were able to move back in to it. >> it has been open for a couple of minutes? good. >> it is like a little city. it is a city that has its own power plant, its own subway system, its own banks, and beauty parlors.
that's because it has several thousand people who work here, both in the senate and the house. the capital building, which was opened in 1800, has grown to meet the demands of the people who work here. but it long ago proved too small for all of the things needed here. and so, if you stand on the plaza in front of the capital, and you look at the small sandstone, the middle secion, that little square box was the original capital building. it housed the senate, the supreme court, and the library of congress. if you stand out on the plaza and look around, all of the buildings that you see, the supreme court, the library of congress, the house and senate buildings, they all started out in that small sandstone box. and they give a sense of how things have grown.
the most recent addition to the capitol is underground, the capitol visitors center. that's a reflection of the fact that three million people per year visit the capital building. tourists who watch congress at work. they needed to be able to accommodate these large crowds that were coming in. for all of that, for all the art, and for all the historical events, this is really a daily working building, with a large staff of people who are trying to keep up with issues, and trying to answer constituents interests. some come early in the morning because their states are on the east coast, some work late at night because their states are on the west coast. there always seems to be a light on in the office buildings here. it reflects the enormous growth of the government, of the services of the government, and the demand that constituents have placed on legislators. that is the whole story of why
we have three office buildings and three house buildings surrounding the united states capital. >> this is one of a series of programs with senate historian emeritus don ritchie. we also toured the russell and dirksen building's, where many of the most notable hearings took place. you can watch all of our "american artifacts" programs in their entirety by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. all weekend, "american history tv" is featuring long beach, california. home to the long beach oilfield, one of the largest in the united states. sitesently visited many seeing the city's history. learn more about long beach all weekend on "american history tv."
>> long beach has always been proud of its aviation history. in january of 1910, the first united states air meet was held here. just adjacent to long beach. people came from all over southern california. it was just amazing. and a lot of people were inspired to become aviators. they caught what i called, "aviation fever." it was the goal to make long beach as important to aviation as detroit was to the auto world. long beach always had a vision for an airport. the first airfield opened in 1920. it was one of the first municipal airports in the united states. one of the people who was there amelia ehrhardt, and it
where she was inspired to learn how to fly. she decided to get a job as a telephone operator, and earned money enough to learn how to fly. she learned from one long beach aviator, and it was another one named frank coxe who took her up on her first flight. but in 1921, they decided that land became too valuable. today we are in one of the most beautiful 10 airports in the world according to the bbc. the long beach municiple airport in long beach, california. long beach knew that there would be a lot of important dignitaries and other people from other countries flying into the long beach airport to visit douglas facilities, so they wanted to have a state-of-the-art, beautiful facility.
it was in 1940 that he decided to buy land adjacent to the airport from the montana land company. this was after 1939, and world war ii was still going on. he decided that it would be wise to make it a state-of-the-art facility. it was the first blackout plant in the united states. first blackout aircraft plant in the united states. it was more or less a city unto itself. there were 11 separate buildings, each camouflaged from the air so that enemy aircraft could not find it. there was an underground railway system that would transport parts from one area of the plant to another. it was virtually a city within a city. i think at one time, there were 170,000 people working here at one time or another during the way. the payroll for the year was $113 million.
and the airport started to become more of a military field with the onslaught of world war ii. and it was home to the six ferrying command, that would ferry aviation craft, aircraft, throughout the world for world war ii. we also had a woman contingent here, they were called wasps. this woman was in charge of them. she was very anxious to have the women fly more. they knew that they were needed, she was willing to fly them overseas. and after the war in europe ended, the wasps were told, we don't need you anymore because pilots were coming from europe. she offered to stay here free of charge for her women to continue flying, but her offer was not