The Real West Wing Tour Guide

Here is a small Christmas gift for you: The Real West Wing Tour Guide (circa 2007).

While the general public can often get a White House East Wing tour through the office of their Member of Congress, West Wing tours can only be given by White House staff.

Through most of President Bush’s time in office, staff were allowed to give tours Tuesday through Friday evenings, and also on weekends.

One summer (I think it was 2003) my West Wing colleague Krista Ritacco and I thought it would be helpful and fun to create a written tour guide for staff. We could improve the quality and accuracy of information and generally help make tours better for both the visitors and the tour guides.

We recruited Krista’s intern, then-Duke University student Sarah Hawkins, to research and write the first version. We then produced simple decks of index cards which we distributed to friends and colleagues on the White House staff. They quickly became an underground hit and were frequently used on tours.

The project went through several iterations, the last quasi-public version of which was developed by Ashley Hickey.

Karen Evans came up with the idea of upgrading it from index cards to a more professional appearance. This is the version you see below, produced by Karen Evans, Tony Summerlin, and the Touchstone Consulting Group on a volunteer basis without using taxpayer dollars. We never distributed this version broadly, even to other White House staff. The contents are identical to the last “public” version, but this version looks even better.

I am distributing this under a Creative Commons License – you can distribute, share, and display this, but you must attribute it, you may not edit it, and you may not use it for commercial purposes.

I invite others to mirror the 10 MB PDF so my host isn’t overloaded. Please provide a link to this page if you do.

I expect that today’s West Wing is somewhat different, especially in the displayed artwork and decor. Nevertheless, I hope you find this interesting and enjoyable.

Merry Christmas. Please click on the cover below to see the Guide. If you get an error message, please update your version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. And thanks to those submitting errata in the comments.

10 thoughts on “The Real West Wing Tour Guide”

  1. What a wonderful Christmas present. It's beautiful and historic, and many thanks for putting this together to a grateful public.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, and God bless you for all the hard work you do to educate America.

  2. Keith, great stuff and a nice gift to history buffs. I can’t help but add three things . . .

    It’d be a shame to mention the Truman assassination attempt without mentioning Leslie Coffelt who was fatally wounded protecting Truman that day and is honored by a plaque in front of Blair House.

    My favorite EEOB moment, in room 208 Secretary of State Cordell Hull notifies Japanese diplomats Nomura and Kurusu that Pearl Harbor is under attack. Talk about being the last to know! (See a picture of them, shellshocked, leaving Hull's office at… . The doorway peeking out above Kurusu’s hat is now the entrance to the Cordell Hull room.)

    While I'm dubious, supposedly the Rockwell illustrations were squirreled away because of concern that the multiple “SS” notations in the drawings, which stood for ‘Secret Service’, might be confused with the Nazi “Schutzstaffe” who became increasingly notorious not long after the works were finished.

  3. On Page 19, it says 23 tons of steel were used for the bow. Here is the statement from AP when the ship was commissioned:

    The 7 1/2 tons of steel debris from ground zero had been melted down to form the bow of the USS New York as “a symbol of our unshakable resolve; this is a city built of steel,” said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, representing the Obama administration.

  4. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

Comments are closed.