Friday, May 23, 2008
Buildings: Government Provided
In reading about the country's first interest group, the Grand Army of the Republic (basically Northern Civil War veterans), I came across a fantastic description of the Pension Building in Washington, D.C., which came as a result of the G.A.R. lobbying for, and eventually getting, pensions for Civil War vets.
"The Pension Building was, and remains, 15.5 million bricks in search of an identity, and arguably, such a Tutankhamenesque creation could have been built only in nineteenth-century America (or, perhaps, in twentieth-century Moscow). Meigs (MR: the designer)...adored Corinthian columns...[t]hus there are soaring Corinthian columns inside the Pension Building, seventy-five feet high, larger than...[any] that exist anywhere else in the world, including Corinth."
The quote is from The Wages of War, describing the post-war scenarios for soliders throughout America's history, divided up by ordeal. They cite the cost of the building at $866,614.04, which, according to AIER's cost-of-living calculator, comes to over $18,000,000 in today's funds. (Well, that's from 1913 dollars to now, I do know the value of the dollar didn't change a whole lot from 1880 to 1913, gold standards tend to do that.)
The website for the Pension Building is here, check out the inside of this place, and look at this picture for a minute...then notice the people in it.