Capitol Fortress

Virginia General Assembly Building (new)

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

With the opening of the new General Assembly Building this month came other reminders of how the world has changed.

It was not that long ago that staff and tourists could walk unimpeded into the Capitol building. One could drive into the circle beyond the gate fronting on Grace Street to pick someone up or drop off a passenger. One could drive on the street between Capitol Square and Old City Hall and even park there on weekends (so long as one did not park in Senate Clerk Susan Schar’s space).

First, it was the Capitol. Visitors without a State ID now have to trek down the hill and enter through an underground entrance and then walk back up several flights of stairs to get to the interior of the Capitol.

Now, the area has the look of a fortress. There is a large gatehouse at the Grace Street entrance along with a large iron gate. The street entrances off Broad St. have gates manned by Capitol Police.

This is not meant to be a criticism. It is a lamentation over the realities of the present era.

Capitol Square, main entrance fronting Grace St.

Capitol Square, street entrance off Broad St., next to General Assembly Building

Capitol Square, street exit onto Broad St.