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About Historic Rooms | Press Galleries

A Race for the Wires—Energy of the Reporters.

Members of the Senate Press Gallery have occupied offices near the current Senate Chamber since it opened in 1859. Beginning in July 1841, while the Senate still met in the Old Senate Chamber, newspaper correspondents held reserved space in the front row of the public gallery above the presiding officer’s rostrum. When the new Chamber opened in 1859, the Senate provided newspaper correspondents with a large gallery above the presiding officer’s chair, as well as office space just outside the Chamber, today’s S-315, equipped with a telegraph desk for correspondents to transmit stories. In 1884 the Senate formally empowered a Standing Committee of Correspondents to grant press credentials and supervise the Press Gallery’s operations. To accommodate the needs of a growing press corps covering Congress, the Senate allotted additional rooms, S-314 and S-316, for the use of correspondents in the 1890s. The offices of the Press Gallery further expanded to S-313 by the mid-20th century.

As reporting technology and the nature of press coverage changed, the Senate formally assigned galleries in the Chamber to accommodate additional press reporters and provided them with office space. In 1939 the Senate established the Radio Gallery, and radio reporters were given a few seats in a side gallery and office space next to the press gallery, where they set up cubicles to conduct interviews and record commentary. In 1941 the Senate recognized the Periodical Press Gallery, composed of journalists writing for magazines and other non-daily newspapers, and assigned it space in the Chamber gallery and a room, S-320, in the Capitol. The Senate awarded radio correspondents a more spacious room, S-312, in 1945, designed with acoustic tiles on the ceilings and walls to provide better sound quality along with five broadcasting booths. In 1953 the Radio Gallery was re-named the Radio and Television Gallery, and a studio was added to accommodate the growth in television news coverage. The Senate designated office space, S-317, for the newly created Press Photographers Gallery in 1959. The Daily Press, Periodical, and Photographers Galleries continue to occupy their historic spaces just off the Senate Chamber, while the Radio and Television Gallery moved to a new office, S-325, in 1986.

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