The White House is one of the few prominent buildings in Washington, D.C. thanks to its prestige. One of the reasons why it is recognized is the fact that it is the home of the sitting US President and his family. Due to its importance to the country, the building is well protected by the Secret Service, local law enforcement agencies in Washington DC, and the branches of the US military. The famous building can be found at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
George Washington did not enjoy the comforts of the famous house after he was inaugurated in 1789 because there was no capital city nor official residence. After the passing of the Residence Act, Philadelphia was the temporary capital where President George Washington stayed as the federal city was being built. Construction of the White House began after deliberations by the federal authorities and a design competition that determined the look of the White House. The foundation was laid in 1792 by a labor force of African American slaves, free African American laborers, and other immigrants who were yet to legalize their status in America, many of whom were from Europe. The construction plan was made by French engineer Charles Pierre L’Efant and it entailed having two floors and using less costly materials but it had to be altered after problems.
When construction was completed in 1800, the building was commissioned by President John Adams who became the first occupant. Previous presidents lived in mansions around New York and Philadelphia. The new house had three floors, eleven bays, a portico, and facades. The design borrows heavily from Leinster Building in Dublin Ireland where the lead architect, James Hoban. There is the famous West Wing where the Oval Office is situated. The design of the White House did not leave out future expansion since it was situated on spacious land.
Throughout history, the White House has been attacked on various occasions and suffered damage. The first ever damage was inflicted by British troops in 1814 where they not only burnt down Washington but also the White House and other federal buildings like the capitol. The building was renovated and painted white to hide the smoke silhouettes. An airplane crashed into the White House in 1994 but no one apart from the pilot was hurt. Terror attacks domestically like the 9/11 attacks and the Oklahoma bombings have resulted in high-level security measures being taken to protect the house.
The White House Today
When a new administration begins its reign, the White House is also subject to personnel changes and the tactics used to protect it. The house is also renovated by the federal government which gives contracts to companies that meet its stringent requirements. Since the renovation after the War of 1812, further renovations have been done like the restoration works done during the Kennedy years. Unlike in the previous century where it was easy to access the White House, today one has to be invited by the President and then go through screening by the Secret Service. The screening cuts across everyone, even visiting leaders.