Facts about the White House

Facts about the White House add extra and interesting facets to the most famous house in America. Probably the best known tidbit is its address—1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.—but there's so much more to learn about the home of the president, the first family, and the Oval Office.

Many interesting facts can be uncovered by looking at White House history. Envisioned by George Washington and Washington city designer Pierre L'Enfant, the White House was constructed over a course of eight years; construction began in 1792 and finished in 1800. The first president to occupy the White House was John Adams. Every president since has lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during his time in office.

Thanks to TV shows and many White house tours, many know that the West Wing is where the president works. Fewer people know that the East Wing is mainly set aside for the First Lady and her staff. The family's living space is on the second and third floor. In total, the mansion has six floors and 132 rooms of living and work space. The kitchen has room to make meals for 140 people at once, and nearly 150 windows let in light throughout the home. Some 6,000 people visit or work at the White House on a typical day; the mansion has as much a work space as a special event venue.

Some of the coolest facts about the White House involved the pets who lived there. The first resident, John Adams, had stables built for his beloved horse named Cleopatra; his wife Abigail had two dogs named Satan and Juno. In the years since, a menagerie of critters large and small have lived at the White House. John Quincy Adams had a pet alligator and some silkworms, while James Buchanan attended to a pair of elephants that were a gift from the King of Siam.

In the 1970s, young Amy Carter had a pet Siamese cat, and the Clintons' cat Socks moved in the White House a few decades later. Many of the first families have had pet dogs—George H.W. Bush's dog Millie even penned a best-selling book, while Bo, the Obama's Portuguese water dog, caused a splash when he arrived at the White House, a gift of Senator Ted Kennedy.

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