By the late 19th century, the majority of visitors traveling to the nation’s capital came for patriotic reasons–with a tour of the U.S. Capitol a highlight of their trip. Following the Civil War, the building became a symbol of freedom and democracy; it was the people’s house, where everyone was equal. Civic improvements in Washington, D.C., and -progress in transportation throughout the nation made the city an attractive destination. In addition, the proliferation of illustrated newspapers and magazines encouraged Washington tourism by providing images like this 1890 view of a newlywed couple in the Capitol Rotunda. The city was surpassing Niagara as a popular destination for honeymooners. One contemporary writer commented, ”And so many people seem to have come under the great dome to rest....Nearly all are people from the country, the greater proportion brides and grooms....Early summer always brings a great influx of bridal pairs to Washington.”
1. Mary Clemmer Ames, Ten Years in Washington. Life and Scenes in the National Capital, as a Woman Sees Them (Cincinnati, OH: Queen City Publishing, 1874), 154–155.