column capitol

Low Town was a shanty town that had grown up around the columns that kept the Capitol Dome level. Even on Gallifrey, there were the poor. Many people in Low Town came to the Capitol looking for work in the Guard, or the Civil Service. Perhaps some had tried to apply for the Academy. Others might have left the life in the Capitol, disillusioned with the rule of the Time Lords. Peltroc sometimes felt that way, and he could see that this was a very different way to live from the disciplined, ordered world above, but he could see no benefit in coming down here. The truth was that people lived here because this was a halfway house with many of the advantages of the Capitol, such as energy sources, fresh water and the rule of law, but with none of the social obligations to the ‘Timeys’, no loomgeld or tithes. The authorities tolerated Low Town because it allowed them to monitor and control lawlessness, keeping it confined to LowTown where they could see it. More than a few Time Lords, particularly the younger ones, had ventured down here to the bars and the brothels to see how the other half lived. They were hypocrites: aristocrats playing at being commoners for the night. Invariably the Capitol Guard had to venture down to extricate them from the clutches of some criminal or other, but at least those Time Lords acknowledged the existence of places like this. The sad truth was that the poor lived in Low Town because most of the elite didn’t care one way or the other what the poor did.

Some parts of Low Town were almost respectable. In places rich merchants had found and refurbished the ruins of old villas, and restored the old roads, parts of the ancient city that the Dome hadn’t enclosed when it had been erected by the generation after Rassilon. There was genuine civic pride there, not to mention a flourishing economy. Other parts of Low Town were filthy, temporary structures made from packing materials and wreckage. There was no disease, of course, no starvation, and the lifespans here were as long as the Time Lords’ – once you’d taken into account that the accident rate was several orders higher than the controlled environment of the Capitol and Citadel. But in Low Town the gift of immortality simply meant that the poor lived in squalor for ten thousand years more than they otherwise would.

- The Infinity Doctors, Lance Parkin 

4

There’s no denying it: The architecture on the National Mall commands a kind of weighty reverence. From the neoclassical columns of the Capitol dome to the immense, white marble of the Lincoln Memorial, charm does not seem to have been the design goal for the nation’s front lawn. Save for one standout: the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building, which, until this summer, had been chained shut for years.

With its colorful facade, arched windows, spires and rotunda, the A and I (as it’s often called) is a festive relief. Even the building’s next-door neighbor, the brownish-red Smithsonian Castle, feels somber by comparison.

But despite the perky building’s popularity, its reopening was hardly grand. Why so little fanfare? Lack of funding seems to be one explanation.

Belle Of The Mall: Saving Smithsonian’s Jewel-Like Arts And Industries Building

Photos: Ariel Zambelich/NPR, Detroit Publishing Co./Library of Congress, Bettmann Archive/Getty Images