The White House has been the private residence and administrative headquarters of every President of the United States since 1800. Today an American flag flies over the house whenever the president is in residence. Situated at the edge of the National Mall, the palatial building has undergone numerous alterations over the years, which have included refurnishing and expansion, the addition of the first toilets by Jefferson, and electricity added during Harrison's presidency, as well as personal inclusions by each of its presidential occupants. The White House was adapted to the needs of Franklin D. Roosevelt who suffered polio and a swimming pool was installed; Jacqueline Kennedy developed the famous Rose Garden; Clinton added a jogging track, hot tub and humidor; and the most recent addition is the vegetable garden planted by Barack and Michelle Obama. Tours visit several rooms on the Ground and State Floors, including the Oval Office, the State Dining Room with seating for 140 dinner or luncheon guests, and the Gold and White East Room that is the publicised scene of presidential receptions and other social events. The top two floors are private. The custom that allows free public tours of the president's private home is only stopped during wartime. The visitor centre provides interesting historical information about the residence and its occupants.
Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Telephone: (202) 208 1631 (White House Visitor Center), or (202) 456 7041 (for up to date, 24-hr tour information)
Transport: McPherson Square, Federal Triangle or Metro Center metro stations
Opening times: Open for self-guided tours Tuesday to Saturday mornings from 7:30am. At present tours are only available to groups of 10 or more people due to increased security and all visitors are advised to phone ahead for up to date information regarding tours. Requests must be submitted through a Member of Congress and are accepted up to six months in advance. The White House Visitor Center is open daily from 7:30am to 4pm.