How the Constitution Is Protected Overnight

The National Archives building in Washington, D.C. houses some of the country's most foundational texts, including the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These three documents are collectively known as the Charters of Freedom and could be the most closely guarded pieces of paper on the planet. During the day, these important texts are available for public viewing under bulletproof glass and constant guard. Every night — or at the press of a button, should the need arise — a special elevator pulls them underground into a custom-built armored vault. The original vault was built in 1953 and was a 55-ton Mosler Vault the size of a walk-in closet and employed a 20-foot scissor jack to raise and lower the Charters of Freedom. The Mosler Vault was replaced in the early 2000s when the National Archives underwent a $110 million renovation. The current vault — designed by Diebold — remains shrouded in secrecy.