Opened in 1935, the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, was created to hold the nation’s most important and influential documents in American history.
The National Archives History Office has produced a new online exhibit on the National Archives Building, which is available in Google Cultural Institute.
In the 19th century, historians and elected officials began campaigning for a central archive to hold all of the federal government’s records. At that time, federal records were in grave danger of permanent loss as a result of damage from improper housing.
Congress finally authorized the construction of the National Archives Building by passing the Public Buildings Act in 1926. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation establishing the National Archives as an agency in 1934.
Occupying a unique position in Washington—halfway between the White House and the Capitol— the National Archives Building was designed by celebrated architect John Russell Pope.
At the building’s cornerstone ceremony in 1933, President Herbert Hoover declared:
“This temple of our history will be appropriately one of the most beautiful buildings in America, an expression of the American soul. It will be one of the most durable, an expression of the American character.”
The National Archives Building is an architectural treasure in terms of both form and function.
It is one of the most ornate buildings in the Federal Triangle and is a prime example of neoclassical architecture.
The building bears the largest pediments in Washington, DC, as well as the largest sliding bronze doors in the world.
The National Archives Building stands as a symbol for the nation of the power, purpose, and resilience of the United States Government and, as the inscription on the east side of the building reads, “our faith in the permanency of our national institutions.”
To learn more about the Building, visit the new online exhibit The National Archives Building: A Temple to our History exhibit on Google Cultural Institute.
You can also read a short history of the building on the National Archives History Office website.
To see more historical photos of the National Archives Building visit our Flickr page.