Glimpse Offered of New Capitol Visitor Center

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The long-awaited U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, $621 million and six years in the making, was unveiled this morning in all its marble, sandstone and historic splendor.

The complex, which officials stressed was built for present and future generations, was opened for a series of press tours and will not open to the public until Dec. 2, when a gala open house will be held.

The three-level center, built completely underground adjacent to the east front of the Capitol, includes a large gathering place called Emancipation Hall, two 250-seat orientation theaters, a historical exhibition that contains, among other things, the black-draped bier on which Abraham Lincoln's body lay, and a 530-seat restaurant.

The center is designed as a place where visitors can assemble for tours of the Capitol or experience the exhibits and other amenities without taking a Capitol tour. No tickets are required for entrance to the center. Tickets are required for tours of the Capitol, which will originate in the center.

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