Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 30, 2013
J. Edgar Hoover Building

J. Edgar Hoover Building

September 30, 1975: President Gerald Ford officially dedicates the J. Edgar Hoover Building. The building is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. It is the national headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was named for the former director of the Bureau. From 1975 to 1999, guided tours were available to the public. They have been discontinued. The FBI headquarters had previously been located in the Department of Justice Building. Designs were finalized in 1964 and construction began in 1967. The new name was authorized on May 4, 1972 – two days after Hoover died.

The building is in the Brutalist architecture style and is often criticized. Brutalist style stems from the modernist architectural movement. The term comes from the French béton brut, or raw concrete. Buildings designed in the style contain repetitive angular geometries. The concrete often displays the wooden forms used for pouring. Buildings of this type are found around the world. The Washingtonian magazine has listed this building along with the Kennedy Center as structures they would like to see torn down.

The FBI came into being in 1908. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte and President Theodore Roosevelt worked together to create a new efficient and expert investigative service. Each state had domain over its own territory and when the country was smaller, it worked well. With crime crossing state lines, a new federal service was needed – but controversial. The corps of Special Agents had no name and only the Attorney General to answer to. The Department of Justice also saw a need for an investigative force. On July 26, 1908 Bonaparte ordered ten agents to report directly to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch, the beginning of the FBI.

Today, the FBI has 56 field offices in major cities throughout the US and Puerto Rico. These field offices are further subdivided into smaller resident agencies. There are over 400 resident agencies as well as 50+ international offices in US embassies around the world. There are nearly 31,000 employees for the government controlled agency. Their 2007 budget was $6.4 billion. Robert S. Mueller, III has been the Director since 2001. The FBI’s investigative priorities are responsive to the needs of the country and have shifted over time.

“Agents need to be free to pursue investigations in ways that they haven’t. There have been restraints that a reformed FBI needs to make sure we don’t impose.” – John Ashcroft

“And so every one of us in the FBI, I don’t care if it’s a file clerk someplace or an agent there or a computer specialist, understands that our main mission is to protect the public from another September 11, another terrorist attack.” – Robert Mueller

“Good FBI officers are not noticeable. You would never look at them.” – Ridley Scott

“Just the minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo.” – J. Edgar Hoover

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: J. Edgar Hoover was the first director of the FBI and held the post from its inception until his death in 1972. He served under six Presidents beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt and ending with Richard Nixon. Truman accused Hoover of turning the FBI into his private police force. Hoover’s largest concern was the spread of Communism. Although he did spend time with controlling gangsters and the Mafia, he was far more concerned with the Red Menace. He fought against any restraints placed by any outside force, including the Supreme Court, and would deliberately and secretly ignore any rule he didn’t like. COINTELPRO was his chief area of concern and was often working directly outside the law but to Hoover’s specifications.

Also on this day: Meet the Flintstones – In 1960, The Flintstones come to prime time television.
Farm Work – In 1962, the first meeting of the National Farm Workers Association too place.
Magic – In 1791, The Magic Flute premiered.