In the five years the Capitol Visitor Center has been open, the facility has given about 200,000 tours.
The center boasts a large Emancipation Hall named in honor of slave laborers who helped lay a foundation to the Capitol following the fire of 1814. A plaster version of the “Statue of Freedom” greets those entering Exhibition Hall, where 572 historic documents have been displayed through the years.
Guests can gaze at statues while picking up tour tickets in Emancipation Hall or pass through the alcove exhibitions that house models of the Capitol through its two centuries of existence.
Over the past two years, the center has also brought dignitaries from Brazil, Chile, Japan and Canada to study the facility as a model for similar projects.
The success is something Fontana is happy to see.
“It might have had its share of attacks during its construction but now it’s admired,” he said, referring to complaints during construction of its cost overruns.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.