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Heart and Brain of the White House: The Oval Office Through the Ages

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The cornerstone of the White House was laid almost 230 years ago, on 13 October 1792. At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace", the "President's House", and the "Executive Mansion". President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House the name by which everyone knows it in 1901.

The Oval Office can be truly described as the heart of the White House, it's synonymous with the power and majesty of the American presidency.

The office is the president's formal workspace, where he meets heads of state, diplomats, other dignitaries and his staff, and from where he addresses the American public and the world on television or - formerly - on the radio.

All inaugurated presidents change the interior decoration of the symbolic room to show their personality.

Upon arriving at the Oval Office, President Joe Biden filled it with images of American leaders and icons with a large portrait of Franklin D Roosevelt placed right in front of the Resolute Desk - the only piece of furniture which is never changed since it was given by Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B Hayes in 1880, having been fashioned out of the oak timbers of the British Arctic exploration ship, HMS Resolute.

Around the office, the newly inaugurated president has placed numerous busts, including that of former President Harry Truman, President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights leader Rosa Parks and the Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstA general view shows the Oval Office as decorated for newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden at the White House, 21 January 2021.
A general view shows the Oval Office as decorated for newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden at the White House, 21 January 2021.   - Sputnik International
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A general view shows the Oval Office as decorated for newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden at the White House, 21 January 2021.
© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstA general view shows the Oval Office as decorated for newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden at the White House, 21 January 2021.
A general view shows the Oval Office as decorated for newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden at the White House, 21 January 2021.   - Sputnik International
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A general view shows the Oval Office as decorated for newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden at the White House, 21 January 2021.
© AP PhotoPresident Franklin D Roosevelt is seen sitting at his desk in the White House, 27 May 1933.
President Franklin D Roosevelt is seen sitting at his desk in the White House, 27 May 1933.   - Sputnik International
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President Franklin D Roosevelt is seen sitting at his desk in the White House, 27 May 1933.
© AP Photo / John RousPresident Kennedy's rocking chair is shown in the Oval Office of the White House, 9 March 1962.
President Kennedy's rocking chair is shown in the Oval Office of the White House, 9 March 1962.  - Sputnik International
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President Kennedy's rocking chair is shown in the Oval Office of the White House, 9 March 1962.
© AP Photo / Eddie AdamsPresident Gerry Ford strides across the Oval Office of the White House, 19 January 1977, as he and the other members of the first family prepare to leave the White House, as President-elect Jimmy Carter is sworn in.
President Gerry Ford strides across the Oval Office of the White House, 19 January 1977, as he and the other members of the first family prepare to leave the White House, as President-elect Jimmy Carter is sworn in.  - Sputnik International
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President Gerry Ford strides across the Oval Office of the White House, 19 January 1977, as he and the other members of the first family prepare to leave the White House, as President-elect Jimmy Carter is sworn in.
© AP Photo / White House/Susan BiddleThis 22 January 1990 file photo released by the White House shows President George HW Bush's Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Bush's redecoration of the Oval Office included a new rug with a gold Presidential Seal, new draperies, a coffee table, and two tall armchairs. Presidents typically put their own touches on the Oval Office early in their terms.
This 22 January 1990 file photo released by the White House shows President George HW Bush's Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Bush's redecoration of the Oval Office included a new rug with a gold Presidential Seal, new draperies, a coffee table, and two tall armchairs. Presidents typically put their own touches on the Oval Office early in their terms.   - Sputnik International
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This 22 January 1990 file photo released by the White House shows President George HW Bush's Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Bush's redecoration of the Oval Office included a new rug with a gold Presidential Seal, new draperies, a coffee table, and two tall armchairs. Presidents typically put their own touches on the Oval Office early in their terms.
© AP PhotoSecretary of State Henry Kissinger being congratulated on 16 October 1973 by President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office of the White House, following the announcement that Kissinger had won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Kissinger and North Vietnamese diplomat Lo Duc Tho won the prize together for their efforts in ending the Vietnam war.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger being congratulated on 16 October 1973 by President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office of the White House, following the announcement that Kissinger had won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Kissinger and North Vietnamese diplomat Lo Duc Tho won the prize together for their efforts in ending the Vietnam war.  - Sputnik International
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Secretary of State Henry Kissinger being congratulated on 16 October 1973 by President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office of the White House, following the announcement that Kissinger had won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Kissinger and North Vietnamese diplomat Lo Duc Tho won the prize together for their efforts in ending the Vietnam war.
© AP Photo / Ron EdmondsPresident Clinton talks on the telephone to the US Mayors from the Oval Office of the White House, 4 May 1993.
President Clinton talks on the telephone to the US Mayors from the Oval Office of the White House, 4 May 1993. - Sputnik International
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President Clinton talks on the telephone to the US Mayors from the Oval Office of the White House, 4 May 1993.
© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez MonsivaisPresident Bush, left, speaks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar by phone from the Oval Office of the White House as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, right, looks on 10 March 2003.
President  Bush, left, speaks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar by phone from the Oval Office of the White House as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, right, looks on 10 March 2003.  - Sputnik International
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President Bush, left, speaks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar by phone from the Oval Office of the White House as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, right, looks on 10 March 2003.
© AFP 2021 / Nicholas KammUS President Barack Obama gets up after signing a compromise $1.1 trillion spending package that funds the government through September 2016 in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on 18 December 2015.
US President Barack Obama gets up after signing a compromise $1.1 trillion spending package that funds the government through September 2016 in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on 18 December 2015.  - Sputnik International
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US President Barack Obama gets up after signing a compromise $1.1 trillion spending package that funds the government through September 2016 in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on 18 December 2015.
© AFP 2021 / Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump addresses reporters in the Oval Office of the White House after receiving a briefing from law enforcement on "Keeping American Communities Safe: The Takedown of Key MS-13 Criminal Leaders" on 15th July 2020 in Washington DC.
President Donald Trump addresses reporters in the Oval Office of the White House after receiving a briefing from law enforcement on Keeping American Communities Safe: The Takedown of Key MS-13 Criminal Leaders on 15th July 2020 in Washington DC.   - Sputnik International
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President Donald Trump addresses reporters in the Oval Office of the White House after receiving a briefing from law enforcement on "Keeping American Communities Safe: The Takedown of Key MS-13 Criminal Leaders" on 15th July 2020 in Washington DC.
© REUTERS / Tom BrennerBiden family photos are displayed around a bust of activist Cesar Chavez, as US President Joe Biden prepares to sign executive orders at the Resolute Desk inside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, 20 January 2021.
Biden family photos are displayed around a bust of activist Cesar Chavez, as US President Joe Biden prepares to sign executive orders at the Resolute Desk inside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, 20 January 2021.  - Sputnik International
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Biden family photos are displayed around a bust of activist Cesar Chavez, as US President Joe Biden prepares to sign executive orders at the Resolute Desk inside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, 20 January 2021.
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