Watching the invasion of the Capitol building today by the insurrectionists attempting a coup, I was reminded of the time when my children and I explored the place.
It used to be that anyone could just walk into the Capitol, and if you looked like you knew what you were doing, nobody would question you.
In the late 1980s I took two elementary (or middle school children, I forget which) with me, but nobody bothered us. We wandered around the first floor, then I wanted to take the kids up to the peanut gallery where average people could watch the proceedings. So we found an elevator. But someone pushed the basement button. So when the door opened there, we decided to explore. So interesting. Pipes hanging from the ceiling. Lots of grey paint. Some doors to offices were open and we saw people having discussions. We must have walked the full length of the Capitol before someone came out of an office and asked us what we were doing. I replied, oh so innocently, that we were looking for where the kids could overlook Congress, so he directed us to an elevator and punched the number for the correct floor for us. More wandering (more offices) until we finally arrived at the balcony overlooking one of the houses of Congress. Which was not in session at the time. darn.
Now, of course, there are all sorts of examination points you have to pass and they'll probably direct you to a tour guide.