I am a fan of “House of Cards” show: Washington politics, halls of power, when upper crust meets city underbelly and personal ambitions clash with the traditional values America is proud of. Bring on intrigue and political drama! So I naturally jumped at a recent opportunity to tour the State Department’s famous “8th floor”, where the official representational diplomatic rooms are.
Located on the top of the Harry S. Truman building (home of State Department, also referred to as “Main State”) downtown DC, the space is regularly used by the Secretary, VP and Cabinet members for various diplomatic engagements. Walking on plush oriental rugs (these, and old, hand-painted china, are the only non-American made items), I was dazzled by the opulent decor (art and furniture collection is apparently worth some $80 million) and atmosphere oozing “importance”.
Thinking of all dignitaries and world leaders who must have walked through these halls, sat on the sofas and at desks made me slightly woozy.
As I admired the old clocks (many), crystal chandeliers (glamorous), paintings on the walls (signing of the Paris Declaration anyone?), copy of the Declaration of Independence (John Quincy Adams Drawing room above, by the fireplace), I thought about all those late night negotiations (thankfully a kitchen is located on the same floor), partnerships forged and trade agreements signed that affected individuals, nations and (heck yeah) the world.
I was particularly amused at the existence of ladies (above) and gentlemen (below) lounges, respectively. I imagined women drinking champagne and chatting about art exhibits, dresses they wore or kids, while men retreated into gentlemen’s lounge with cigars and good quality bourbon, talking politics and deals, maybe sports a bit.
I wondered what happens when the roles get switched nowadays and women might be in charge. In this scenario, women head to Martha Washington lounge and talk politics (still drinking champagne, in amazing gowns), while their husbands relax in the other lounge discussing latest gardening, home projects and tennis matches they’ve just had.
Some of the details in the stunning space below blew my mind so I had to take many pictures.
Now, I would not really mind if anyone invited me to a reception in this ball room below.
I would definitely enjoy cocktails on this balcony, on a warm summer evening, with a jazz band playing in the background and DC skyline in sight.
Here are additional shots I enjoyed to round-up the amazing hour I spent enjoying this high-life and high diplomacy.
I will leave you with the row of flags of countries that the U.S. has diplomatic relations with, decorating State Department’s official entrance hall (C street entrance), and wish you a great week! Hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour.