Much of the Trump family gathered together on Monday to qRHX RHW solar eclipse from the White House. The president and his family viewed the historic event from the ornate South Portico, on the south side of the White House. And while it made an excellent viewpoint for the eclipse, this part of the White House residence also has years of history and important presidential moments behind it.
Press pool reports had initially indicated that the family would watch the eclipse from the Truman Balcony, which is the area directly above the South Portico. The Truman Balcony extends off the back of the Yellow Oval Room on the second floor of the White House residence, and has long been used for the First Family to relax and host guests, with its exquisite view of the South Lawn and the Washington Monument.
However, when it was time for the main event, the family exited onto the South Portico, which is the porch that extends off the Blue Room on the first-floor of the White House. Although they were technically on the first floor, there is still one floor below; the ground floor sits at street level of the White House, which is how the Trumps could still be on the first floor while appearing to be above the reporters on the ground
The South Portico was added to the White House building in 1824, during President James Monroe's administration. The portico has two sweeping staircases that extend down from either end of the semicircle-shaped porch to the driveway, where horse carriages once brought residents and visitors to the south entrance.
The White House Museum has pictures from years back of presidents receiving dignitaries at the south entrance, with trumpeters lining the portico's porch, as well as more solemn occasions, like the Obamas observing a moment of silence on the anniversary of 9/11. Both President Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon were photographed with their daughters on the grand portico staircases on their wedding days.
In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his fourth inaugural address from the South Portico porch. At the time, the portico didn't have the balcony above, so awnings were used to shade the porch. It was President Harry Truman who felt the awnings were an eyesore, and proposed building the second-floor balcony above, to enhance the look of the White House, and remove the need for the awnings he thought unappealing. The idea was met with great resistance, though after the project was completed, the naysayers acquiesced that the look of the building was improved by the addition.
The South Portico can now add solar eclipse viewing to its long list of presidential uses.