United States Capitol

United States Capitol

Overview
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, the legislature of the federal government of the United States
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

. Located in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, it sits atop Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
Capitol Hill, aside from being a metonym for the United States Congress, is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C., stretching easterly in front of the United States Capitol along wide avenues...

 at the eastern end of the National Mall
National Mall
The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

. Though it has never been the geographic center
Geography of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., US, is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a geographical area of , of which is land, and the remaining of which is water....

 of the federal district, the Capitol is the origin
Origin (mathematics)
In mathematics, the origin of a Euclidean space is a special point, usually denoted by the letter O, used as a fixed point of reference for the geometry of the surrounding space. In a Cartesian coordinate system, the origin is the point where the axes of the system intersect...

 by which both the quadrants of the District
Quadrants of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., is administratively divided into four geographical quadrants of unequal size, each delineated by their ordinal directions from the medallion located in the Crypt under the Rotunda of the Capitol...

 are divided and the city was planned. Officially, both the east and west sides of the Capitol are referred to as "fronts." Historically, however, only the east front of the building was intended for the arrival of visitors and dignitaries.

Prior to establishing the nation's capital in Washington, D.C., the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and its predecessors had met in Philadelphia, New York City, and a number of other locations.
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The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, the legislature of the federal government of the United States
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

. Located in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, it sits atop Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
Capitol Hill, aside from being a metonym for the United States Congress, is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C., stretching easterly in front of the United States Capitol along wide avenues...

 at the eastern end of the National Mall
National Mall
The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

. Though it has never been the geographic center
Geography of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., US, is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a geographical area of , of which is land, and the remaining of which is water....

 of the federal district, the Capitol is the origin
Origin (mathematics)
In mathematics, the origin of a Euclidean space is a special point, usually denoted by the letter O, used as a fixed point of reference for the geometry of the surrounding space. In a Cartesian coordinate system, the origin is the point where the axes of the system intersect...

 by which both the quadrants of the District
Quadrants of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., is administratively divided into four geographical quadrants of unequal size, each delineated by their ordinal directions from the medallion located in the Crypt under the Rotunda of the Capitol...

 are divided and the city was planned. Officially, both the east and west sides of the Capitol are referred to as "fronts." Historically, however, only the east front of the building was intended for the arrival of visitors and dignitaries.

History


Prior to establishing the nation's capital in Washington, D.C., the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and its predecessors had met in Philadelphia, New York City, and a number of other locations. In September 1774, the First Continental Congress
First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen North American colonies that met on September 5, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts by the...

 brought together delegates from the colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 in Philadelphia, followed by the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

, which met from May 1775 to March 1781. After adopting the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, the Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
The Congress of the Confederation or the United States in Congress Assembled was the governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789. It comprised delegates appointed by the legislatures of the states. It was the immediate successor to the Second...

 was formed and convened in Philadelphia from March 1781 until June 1783, when a mob of angry soldiers converged upon Independence Hall, demanding payment for their service during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. Congress requested that John Dickinson
John Dickinson (delegate)
John Dickinson was an American lawyer and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. He was a militia officer during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of...

, the governor of Pennsylvania, call up the militia
Militia (United States)
The role of militia, also known as military service and duty, in the United States is complex and has transformed over time.Spitzer, Robert J.: The Politics of Gun Control, Page 36. Chatham House Publishers, Inc., 1995. " The term militia can be used to describe any number of groups within the...

 to defend Congress from attacks by the protesters. In what became known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783
Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783
The Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783 was an anti-government protest by nearly 400 soldiers of the Continental Army in June 1783...

, Dickinson sympathized with the protesters and refused to remove them from Philadelphia. As a result, Congress was forced to flee to Princeton
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

, New Jersey, on June 21, 1783, and met in Annapolis
Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Maryland, as well as the county seat of Anne Arundel County. It had a population of 38,394 at the 2010 census and is situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, south of Baltimore and about east of Washington, D.C. Annapolis is...

, Maryland and Trenton
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton is the capital of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913...

, New Jersey before ending up in New York City.

The United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 was established upon ratification
History of the United States Constitution
The United States Constitution was written in 1787, but it did not take effect until after it was ratified in 1789, when it replaced the Articles of Confederation. It remains the basic law of the United States...

 of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 and formally began on March 4, 1789. New York City remained home to Congress until July 1790, when the Residence Act
Residence Act
The Residence Act of 1790, officially titled An Act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United States, is the United States federal law that settled the question of locating the capital of the United States, selecting a site along the Potomac River...

 was passed to pave the way for a permanent capital. The decision to locate the capital was contentious, but Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 helped broker a compromise in which the federal government would take on war debt incurred during the American Revolutionary War, in exchange for support from northern states
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

 for locating the capital along the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

. As part of the legislation, Philadelphia was chosen as a temporary capital for ten years (until December 1800), until the nation's capital in Washington, D.C. would be ready.

Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant
Pierre Charles L'Enfant
Pierre Charles L'Enfant was a French-born American architect and civil engineer best known for designing the layout of the streets of Washington, D.C..-Early life:...

 was given the task of creating the city plan for the new capital city. L'Enfant chose Jenkins Hill as the site for the Capitol building, with a grand boulevard
Boulevard
A Boulevard is type of road, usually a wide, multi-lane arterial thoroughfare, divided with a median down the centre, and roadways along each side designed as slow travel and parking lanes and for bicycle and pedestrian usage, often with an above-average quality of landscaping and scenery...

 connecting it with the President's House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, and a public space stretching westward to the Potomac River. In reviewing L'Enfant's plan, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 insisted the legislative building be called the "Capitol" rather than "Congress House". The word "Capitol" comes from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and is associated with the Roman temple to Jupiter Optimus Maximus on Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

. In addition to coming up with a city plan, L'Enfant had been tasked with designing the Capitol and President's House, however he was dismissed in February 1792 over disagreements with President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and the commissioners, and there were no plans at that point for the Capitol.

Design competition


In spring 1792, Thomas Jefferson proposed a design competition to solicit designs for the Capitol and the President's House, and set a four-month deadline. The prize for the competition was $500 and a lot in the federal city. At least ten individuals submitted designs for the Capitol; however the drawings were regarded as crude and amateurish, reflecting the level of architectural skill present in the United States at the time. The most promising of the submissions was by Stephen Hallet
Étienne Sulpice Hallet
Étienne Sulpice Hallet was a French-born U.S. architect.Around 1789, Hallet went to the United States. There he became known as Stephen Hallet. He worked as Pierre L'Enfant's draftsman....

, a trained French architect. However, Hallet's designs were overly fancy, with too much French influence, and were deemed too costly.

A late entry by amateur architect William Thornton
William Thornton
Dr. William Thornton was a British-American physician, inventor, painter and architect who designed the United States Capitol, an authentic polymath...

 was submitted on January 31, 1793, to much praise for its "Grandeur, Simplicity, and Beauty" by Washington, along with praise from Jefferson. Thornton was inspired by the east front of the Louvre, as well as the Paris Pantheon
Panthéon, Paris
The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens...

 for the center portion of the design. Thornton's design was officially approved in a letter, dated April 5, 1793, from Washington. In an effort to console Hallet, the commissioners appointed him to review Thornton's plans, develop cost estimates, and serve as superintendent of construction. Hallet proceeded to pick apart and make drastic changes to Thornton's design, which he saw as costly to build and problematic. In July 1793, Jefferson convened a five-member commission, bringing Hallet and Thornton together, along with James Hoban
James Hoban
James Hoban was an Irish architect, best known for designing The White House in Washington, D.C.-Life:James Hoban was born and raised in a thatched cottage on the Earl of Desart's estate in Cuffesgrange, near Callan in Co. Kilkenny...

, to address problems with and revise Thornton's plan. Hallet suggested changes to the floor plan, which could be fitted within the exterior design by Thornton. The revised plan was accepted, except that Jefferson and Washington insisted on an open recess
Alcove
Alcove , a vault) is an architectural term for a recess in a room, usually screened off by pillars, balustrades or drapery.In geography and geology, the term Alcove is used for a wind-eroded depression in the side of a cliff of a homogenous rock type, famous from sandstones of the Colorado Plateau...

 in the center of the East front, which was part of Thornton's original plan.

The original design by Thornton was later modified by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and then Charles Bulfinch
Charles Bulfinch
Charles Bulfinch was an early American architect, and has been regarded by many as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession....

. The current dome
United States Capitol dome
The United States Capitol dome is the massive dome situated above the United States Capitol which reaches upwards to in height and in diameter. The dome was designed by Thomas U...

 and the House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 and Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 wings were designed by Thomas U. Walter
Thomas U. Walter
Thomas Ustick Walter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was an American architect, the dean of American architecture between the 1820 death of Benjamin Latrobe and the emergence of H.H. Richardson in the 1870s...

 and August Schoenborn
August Schoenborn
August Schoenborn was a German American architect.He was born around 1827 in Germany. Schoenborn studied at University of Erfurt and immigrated to the United States in 1849. In June, 1851 he found a position at the Architect of the Capitol where he designed the dome of the United States Capitol....

, a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 immigrant, and were completed under the supervision of Edward Clark
Edward Clark (architect)
Edward Clark was an American architect who served as Architect of the Capitol from 1865 to 1902.Edward Clark was Thomas U. Walter's student, chief assistant, and successor. Prior to working with Walter, he had received training in freehand and mechanical drawing as well as engineering...

.

Construction


L'Enfant secured the lease of quarries
Quarry
A quarry is a type of open-pit mine from which rock or minerals are extracted. Quarries are generally used for extracting building materials, such as dimension stone, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, and gravel. They are often collocated with concrete and asphalt plants due to the requirement...

 at Wigginton Island
Public Quarry at Government Island
The Public Quarry at Government Island in Stafford County, Virginia is the principal source of Aquia Creek sandstone, a building stone used in many of the early government buildings in Washington, D.C., including the U.S. Capitol and the White House...

 and along Aquia Creek
Aquia Creek
Aquia Creek is a tributary of the tidal segment of the Potomac River and is located in northern Virginia. The creek's headwaters lie in southeastern Fauquier County, and it empties into the Potomac at Brent Point in Stafford County, south of Washington, D.C....

 in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 for use in the foundation
Foundation (architecture)
A foundation is the lowest and supporting layer of a structure. Foundations are generally divided into two categories: shallow foundations and deep foundations.-Shallow foundations:...

s and outer walls of the Capitol in November 1791. Surveying was underway soon after the Jefferson conference plan for the Capitol was accepted. A groundbreaking
Groundbreaking
Groundbreaking, also known as cutting, sod-cutting, turning the first sod or a sod-turning ceremony, is a traditional ceremony in many cultures that celebrates the first day of construction for a building or other project. Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries such as politicians and...

 ceremony for the Capitol took place on September 18, 1793. Washington, dressed in masonic
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 attire, laid the cornerstone
Cornerstone
The cornerstone concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or...

, which was made by silversmith
Silversmith
A silversmith is a craftsperson who makes objects from silver or gold. The terms 'silversmith' and 'goldsmith' are not synonyms as the techniques, training, history, and guilds are or were largely the same but the end product varies greatly as does the scale of objects created.Silversmithing is the...

 Caleb Bentley
Caleb Bentley
Caleb Bentley was a silversmith, shopkeeper, and first postmaster in Brookeville, Maryland. Bentley was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1762....

.

Construction proceeded with Hallet working under supervision of James Hoban, who was also busy working on construction of the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

. Despite the wishes of Jefferson and the President, Hallet went ahead anyway and modified Thornton's design for the East front and created a square central court that projected from the center, with flanking wings which would house the legislative bodies. Hallet was dismissed by Jefferson on November 15, 1794. George Hadfield
George Hadfield (architect)
George Hadfield was born in Livorno, Italy of English parents, who were hotel-keepers. He studied at the Royal Academy, and worked with James Wyatt for six years before emigrating to the United States....

 was hired on October 15, 1795 as superintendent of construction, but resigned three years later in May 1798, due to dissatisfaction with Thornton's plan and quality of work done thus far.

The Senate wing was completed in 1800, while the House wing was completed in 1811. However, the House of Representatives moved into the House wing in 1807. Though the building was incomplete, the Capitol held its first session of United States Congress on November 17, 1800. The legislature was moved to Washington prematurely, at the urging of President John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 in hopes of securing enough Southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 votes to be re-elected for a second term as president.

Early religious usage


In its early days, the Capitol building was not only used for governmental functions. On Sundays, church services were regularly held there - a practice that continued until after the Civil War. According to the US Library of Congress exhibit "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic" "It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church. Within a year of his inauguration, Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson's example, although unlike Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, Madison came in a coach and four. Worship services in the House--a practice that continued until after the Civil War--were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. Preachers of every Protestant denomination appeared. (Catholic priests began officiating in 1826.)"

War of 1812



Not long after the completion of both wings, the Capitol was partially burned
Burning of Washington
The Burning of Washington was an armed conflict during the War of 1812 between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America. On August 24, 1814, led by General Robert Ross, a British force occupied Washington, D.C. and set fire to many public buildings following...

 by the British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. George Bomford
George Bomford
George Bomford was an inventor, designer, and distinguished military officer in the United States Army. After graduating from West Point in 1805, as a lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, he served as assistant engineer on the defenses of New York Harbor until 1808. From 1808 to 1810 George...

, and Joseph Gardner Swift
Joseph Gardner Swift
Joseph Gardner Swift, the first graduate of the United States Military Academy, was born on 31 December 1783 on Nantucket Island, the son of Foster Swift and his wife, Deborah...

, both military engineers, were called upon to help rebuild the Capitol. Reconstruction began in 1815 and was completed by 1819. Construction continued through to 1826, with the addition of the center Rotunda
United States Capitol Rotunda
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Located below the Capitol dome, it is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart."...

 area and the first dome of the Capitol. Latrobe is principally connected with the original construction and many innovative interior features; his successor, Bulfinch, also played a major role, such as the design of the first dome.

The House and Senate Wings


By 1850, it became clear that the Capitol could not accommodate the growing number of legislators arriving from newly admitted states. A new design competition was held, and President Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president...

 appointed Philadelphia architect Thomas U. Walter
Thomas U. Walter
Thomas Ustick Walter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was an American architect, the dean of American architecture between the 1820 death of Benjamin Latrobe and the emergence of H.H. Richardson in the 1870s...

 to carry out the expansion. Two new wings were added – a new chamber for the House of Representatives on the south side, and a new chamber for the Senate on the north.

When the Capitol was expanded in the 1850s, some of the construction labor was carried out by slaves
History of slavery in the United States
Slavery in the United States was a form of slave labor which existed as a legal institution in North America for more than a century before the founding of the United States in 1776, and continued mostly in the South until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in...

 "who cut the logs, laid the stones and baked the bricks". The original plan was to use workers brought in from Europe; however, there was a poor response to recruitment efforts, and African Americans—free and slave—comprised the majority of the work force.

The Capitol Dome



The 1850 expansion more than doubled the length of the Capitol, dwarfing the original, timber-framed 1818 dome. In 1855, the decision was made to tear it down and replace it with the "wedding-cake
Wedding-cake style
In architecture, a "wedding-cake style" is an informal reference to buildings with many distinct tiers, each set back from the one below, resulting in a shape like a wedding cake, that are richly ornamented with classicising detail, as if made in sugar icing....

 style" cast-iron dome that stands today. Also designed by Walter, the new dome stood three times the height of the original dome and 100 feet (30.5 m) in diameter, yet had to be supported on the existing masonry piers. Like Mansart's dome at Les Invalides
Les Invalides
Les Invalides , officially known as L'Hôtel national des Invalides , is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's...

 (which he had visited in 1838), Walter's dome is double, with a large oculus
Oculus
An Oculus, circular window, or rain-hole is a feature of Classical architecture since the 16th century. They are often denoted by their French name, oeil de boeuf, or "bull's-eye". Such circular or oval windows express the presence of a mezzanine on a building's façade without competing for...

 in the inner dome, through which is seen The Apotheosis of Washington
The Apotheosis of Washington
The Apotheosis of Washington is the immense fresco painted by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865 and visible through the oculus of the dome in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. The fresco is suspended above the rotunda floor and covers an area of . The figures painted are...

painted on a shell suspended from the supporting ribs, which also support the visible exterior structure and the tholos that supports Freedom
Statue of Freedom
The Statue of Freedom — also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom — is a bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, official U.S...

, a colossal statue that was added to the top of the dome in 1863. The weight of the cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 for the dome has been published as 8,909,200 pounds (4,041,100 kg).

Later expansion


When the Capitol's new dome was finally completed, its massive visual weight, in turn, overpowered the proportions of the columns of the East Portico
Portico
A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls...

, built in 1828. The East Front of the Capitol building was rebuilt in 1904, following a design of the architects Carrère and Hastings
Carrère and Hastings
Carrère and Hastings, the firm of John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings , located in New York City, was one of the outstanding Beaux-Arts architecture firms in the United States. The partnership operated from 1885 until 1911, when Carrère was killed in an automobile accident...

, who also designed the Senate
Russell Senate Office Building
The Russell Senate Office Building is the oldest of the United States Senate office buildings. Designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, it was built from 1903 to 1908, opened in 1909, and named for former Senator Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. of Georgia in 1972...

 and House
Cannon House Office Building
The Cannon House Office Building, completed in 1908, is the oldest congressional office building as well as a significant example of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture...

 office buildings.

The next major expansion to the Capitol started in 1958, with a 33.5 feet (10.2 m) extension of the East Portico. A marble duplicate of the sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 East Front was built 33.5 feet (10.2 m) from the old Front. (In 1962, a connecting extension incorporated what formerly was an outside wall as an inside wall.) In the process, the Corinthian
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 column
Column
A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

s were removed. It was not until 1984 that landscape designer Russell Page
Russell Page
Montague Russell Page was a British gardener, garden designer and landscape architect.Former partner of Geoffrey Jellicoe and author of The Education of a Gardener . In this book he includes some reference to Islamic and classical gardens...

 created a suitable setting for them in a large meadow at the National Arboretum
United States National Arboretum
The United States National Arboretum is an arboretum in Washington, D.C., operated by the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service as a division of the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center...

 as the National Capitol Columns
National Capitol Columns
The National Capitol Columns is a monument located in Washington's National Arboretum. It is designed in the style of Corinthian columns, with twenty-two columns submerged in of open meadow, known as the Ellipse Meadow.-Original use:...

, where they are combined with a reflecting pool in an ensemble that reminds some visitors of Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

. Besides the columns, hundreds of blocks of the original stone were removed and are stored behind a National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 maintenance yard in Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is a large urban natural area with public park facilities that bisects Washington, D.C. The park is administered by the National Park Service.-Rock Creek Park:The main section of the park contains , or , along the Rock Creek Valley...

.


On December 19, 1960, the Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 by the National Park Service. The building was ranked No.6 in a survey conducted for the American Institute of Architects
American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

' list of "America's Favorite Architecture". The Capitol draws heavily from other notable buildings, especially churches and landmarks in Europe, including the dome of St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

 in the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 and St. Paul's Cathedral in London. On the roofs of the Senate and House Chambers are flagpoles that fly the U.S. flag
Flag of the United States
The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

 when either is in session. On September 18, 1993, to commemorate the Capitol's bicentennial, the Masonic ritual cornerstone laying with George Washington was reenacted. Strom Thurmond
Strom Thurmond
James Strom Thurmond was an American politician who served as a United States Senator. He also ran for the Presidency of the United States in 1948 as the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes...

 was one of the Freemason politicians who took part in the ceremony.

On June 20, 2000, ground was broken for the Capitol Visitor Center, which subsequently opened on December 2, 2008. From 2001 through 2008, the East Front of the Capitol (site of most presidential inaugurations until Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 began a new tradition in 1981) was the site of construction for this massive underground complex, designed to facilitate a more orderly entrance for visitors to the Capitol. Prior to the center being built, visitors to the Capitol had to queue on the parking lot and ascend the stairs, whereupon entry was made through the massive sculpted Columbus Doors, through a small narthex
Narthex
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

 cramped with security, and thence directly into the Rotunda. The new underground facility provides a grand entrance hall, a visitors theater, room for exhibits, and dining and restroom facilities, in addition to space for building necessities such as an underground service tunnel
Utility tunnel
A utility tunnel is a space for wires, conduits, pipes, and other conveyances used in the delivery of utilities with enough room for a human to enter. Modern pipes and cables need less attention and space than older varieties, so the construction of utility tunnels declined in the late 20th century...

.

Interior


The Capitol building is marked by its central dome
United States Capitol dome
The United States Capitol dome is the massive dome situated above the United States Capitol which reaches upwards to in height and in diameter. The dome was designed by Thomas U...

 above a rotunda
United States Capitol Rotunda
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Located below the Capitol dome, it is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart."...

 and two wings, one for each chamber of Congress: the north wing is the Senate chamber and the south wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Above these chambers are galleries where visitors can watch the Senate and House of Representatives. It is an example of the neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 style. The statue on top of the dome is the Statue of Freedom
Statue of Freedom
The Statue of Freedom — also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom — is a bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, official U.S...

.

Underground tunnels and a private underground railway connect the main Capitol building with each of the Congressional office buildings
Congressional office buildings
The congressional office buildings are the office buildings used by the United States Congress to augment the limited space in the United States Capitol. The congressional office buildings are part of the Capitol Complex are thus under the authority of the Architect of the Capitol and protected by...

 in the surrounding complex
United States Capitol Complex
The United States Capitol Complex is a group of about a dozen buildings and facilities in Washington, D.C., that are used by the United States government...

. All rooms in the Capitol are designated as either S (for Senate) or H (for House), depending on whether they are north (Senate) or south (House) of the Rotunda
United States Capitol Rotunda
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Located below the Capitol dome, it is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart."...

. Additionally, all addresses in Washington, D.C.
Streets and highways of Washington, D.C.
The streets and highways of Washington, D.C. form the core of the city's surface transportation infrastructure. As a planned city, streets in the capital of the United States follow a distinctive layout and addressing scheme...

 are designated NE, NW, SE, or SW, in relation to the Rotunda. Since the Capitol Rotunda is not located in the center of the District—it is slightly farther east and south—the four D.C. quadrants
Quadrants of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., is administratively divided into four geographical quadrants of unequal size, each delineated by their ordinal directions from the medallion located in the Crypt under the Rotunda of the Capitol...

 are not the same shape and size.

Art


The Capitol has a long history in art of the United States
Visual arts of the United States
American art encompasses the history of painting and visual art in the United States. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, artists primarily painted landscapes and portraits in a realistic style. A parallel development taking shape in rural America was the American craft movement,...

, beginning in 1856 with Italian
Italian American
An Italian American , is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship...

/Greek American
Greek American
Greek Americans are Americans of Greek descent also described as Hellenic descent. According to the 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimation, there were 1,380,088 people of Greek ancestry in the United States, while the State Department mentions that around 3,000,000 Americans claim to be of Greek descent...

 artist Constantino Brumidi
Constantino Brumidi
Constantino Brumidi was an Greek/Italian-American historical painter, best known and honored for his fresco work in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.-Parentage and early life:...

 and his mural
Mural
A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A particularly distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.-History:Murals of...

s in the hallways of the first floor of the Senate side of the Capitol. The murals, known as the Brumidi Corridors
Brumidi Corridors
The Brumidi Corridors are the vaulted, ornately-decorated corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing in the United States Capitol.-Background and artist:...

, reflect great moments and people in United States history
History of the United States
The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

. Among the original works are those depicting Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, John Fitch
John Fitch (inventor)
John Fitch was an American inventor, clockmaker, and silversmith who, in 1787, built the first recorded steam-powered boat in the United States...

, Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton was an American engineer and inventor who is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat...

, and events such as the Cession of Louisiana
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

. Also decorating the walls are animals, insects and natural flora
Flora of the United States
The native flora of the United States includes about 17,000 species of vascular plants, plus tens of thousands of additional species of other plants and plant-like organisms such as algae, lichens and other fungi, and mosses...

 indigenous to the United States. Brumidi's design left many spaces open so that future events in United States history could be added. Among those added are the Spirit of St. Louis
Spirit of St. Louis
The Spirit of St. Louis is the custom-built, single engine, single-seat monoplane that was flown solo by Charles Lindbergh on May 20–21, 1927, on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris for which Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize.Lindbergh took off in the Spirit from Roosevelt...

, the Moon landing
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

, and the Challenger shuttle crew
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST...

.

Brumidi also worked within the Rotunda. He is responsible for the painting of The Apotheosis of Washington
The Apotheosis of Washington
The Apotheosis of Washington is the immense fresco painted by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865 and visible through the oculus of the dome in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. The fresco is suspended above the rotunda floor and covers an area of . The figures painted are...

beneath the top of the dome, and also the famous Frieze of United States History. The Apotheosis of Washington was completed in 11 months and painted by Brumidi while suspended nearly 180 feet (54.9 m) in the air. It is said to be the first attempt by the United States to deify a founding father
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

. Washington is depicted surrounded by 13 maidens
Virginity
Virginity refers to the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions which place special value and significance on this state, especially in the case of unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth...

 in an inner ring with many Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 and Roman gods and goddesses
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 below him in a second ring. The frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 is located around the inside of the base of the dome and is a chronological, pictorial history of the United States from the landing of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 to the Wright Brothers
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

's flight in Kitty Hawk
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Kitty Hawk is a town in Dare County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 3,000 at the 2000 census. It was established in the early 18th century as Chickahawk....

, North Carolina. The frieze was started in 1878 and was not completed until 1953. The frieze was therefore painted by four different artists: Brumidi, Filippo Costaggini
Filippo Costaggini
thumb|300px|Filippo CostagginiFilippo Costaggini was an artist from Rome, Italy, who worked in the United States Capitol. He and Constantino Brumidi both trained at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, and he came to the United States in 1870. In addition to working in the United States Capitol,...

, Charles Ayer Whipple, and Allyn Cox
Allyn Cox
Allyn Cox was an American artist known for his murals, including those he painted in the United States Capitol and the U. S. Department of State....

. The final scenes depicted in the fresco had not yet occurred when Brumidi began his Frieze of the United States History.

Within the Rotunda there are eight large paintings about the development of the United States as a nation. On the east side are four paintings depicting major events in the discovery of America. On the west are four paintings depicting the founding of the United States. The east side paintings include The Baptism of Pocahontas
Pocahontas
Pocahontas was a Virginia Indian notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. She was the daughter of Chief Powhatan, the head of a network of tributary tribal nations in Tidewater Virginia...

by John Gadsby Chapman
John Gadsby Chapman
John Gadsby Chapman was an American artist famous for The Baptism of Pocahontas, which was commissioned by the United States Congress and hangs in the United States Capitol rotunda.- Life and career :...

, The Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir
Robert Walter Weir
Robert Walter Weir was an American artist, best known as an educator, and as an historical painter. He was considered an artist of the Hudson River school, was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1829, and an instructor at the United States Military Academy...

, The Discovery of the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

by William Henry Powell
William Henry Powell
William Henry Powell , was an American artist from Ohio.Powell is known for a painting of the Battle of Lake Erie, of which one copy hangs in the Ohio state capitol building and the other, in the United States Capitol. Powell has a second piece of artwork displayed in the United States Capitol...

, and The Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn
John Vanderlyn
John Vanderlyn was an American neoclassicist painter.-Biography:Vanderlyn was born at Kingston, New York. He was employed by a print-seller in New York, and was first instructed in art by Archibald Robinson , a Scotsman who was afterwards one of the directors of the American Academy of the Fine Arts...

. The paintings on the west side are by John Trumbull
John Trumbull
John Trumbull was an American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings...

: Declaration of Independence
Trumbull's Declaration of Independence
John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot oil-on-canvas painting in the United States Capitol Rotunda that depicts the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress...

, Surrender of General Burgoyne
Surrender of General Burgoyne
The Surrender of General Burgoyne is an oil painting by John Trumbull. The painting was completed in 1821, and hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D. C....

, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG , styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as The Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a British Army officer and colonial administrator...

, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission. Trumbull was a contemporary of the United States' founding fathers and a participant in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

; he painted a self-portrait into Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

The Capitol also houses the National Statuary Hall Collection
National Statuary Hall Collection
The National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol comprises statues donated by individual states to honor persons notable in their history...

, comprising two statues donated by each of the fifty states
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 to honor persons notable in their histories. One of the most notable statues in the National Statuary Hall
National Statuary Hall
National Statuary Hall is a chamber in the United States Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans. The hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House, is a large, two-story, semicircular room with a second story gallery along the curved perimeter. It is located immediately south of the...

 is a bronze statue of King Kamehameha
Kamehameha Statue
Several Kamehameha Statues honor the monarch who founded the Kingdom of Hawaii.-Gould's work:One stands prominently in front of Aliiolani Hale in Honolulu, Hawaii. The statue had its origins in 1878 when Walter M. Gibson, a member of the Hawaiian government at the time, wanted to commemorate the...

 donated by the state of Hawaii upon its accession to the union in 1959. The statue's extraordinary weight of 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) raised concerns that it might come crashing through the floor, so it was moved to Emancipation Hall of the new Capitol Visitor Center. The 100th, and last statue for the collection, that of Po'pay
Popé
Popé or Po'pay was a Tewa religious leader from Ohkay Owingeh , who led the Pueblo Revolt against Spanish colonial rule in 1680.-Background:...

 from the state of New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, was added on September 22, 2005. It was the first statue moved into the Emancipation Hall.

Features


Under the Rotunda there is an area known as the Crypt
United States Capitol crypt
The United States Capitol crypt is the large circular room filled with forty neoclassical Doric columns directly beneath the United States Capitol rotunda and was built originally to support the rotunda, as well offer an entrance to Washington's Tomb...

. It was designed to look down on the final resting place of George Washington in the tomb
Washington's Tomb
Washington's Tomb is a small chamber in the basement of the United States Capitol building. It was designed to entomb the body of George Washington, the first President of the United States...

 below. However, under the stipulations of his last will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

, Washington was buried at Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon
The name Mount Vernon is a dedication to the English Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon. It was first applied to Mount Vernon, the Virginia estate of George Washington, the first President of the United States...

, and as such the area remains open to visitors. The Crypt now houses exhibits on the history of the Capitol. A star inlaid in the floor marks the point at which Washington, D.C. is divided into its four quadrants; however, the exact center of the city lies near the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

. At one end of the room near the Old Supreme Court Chamber
Old Supreme Court Chamber
The Old Supreme Court Chamber is the room on the ground floor of the North Wing of the United States Capitol. From 1800 to 1806, the room was the lower half of the first United States Senate chamber, and from 1810 to 1860, the courtroom for the Supreme Court of the United States.- History and use...

 is a statue of John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

. On the right leg of the statue, a mark from a bullet fired during the 1998 shooting incident
United States Capitol shooting incident (1998)
The United States Capitol shooting incident of 1998 was an attack on July 24, 1998 which led to the death of two United States Capitol Police officers. Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut were killed when Russell Eugene Weston Jr. entered the Capitol and opened fire...

 is clearly visible. The bullet also left a mark on the cape, located on the back right side of the statue.

Eleven presidents have lain in state
Lying in state
Lying in state is a term used to describe the tradition in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public at large to pay their respects to the deceased. It traditionally takes place in the principal government building of a country or city...

 in the Rotunda for public viewing, most recently Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

. The tomb meant for Washington stored the catafalque
Catafalque
A catafalque is a raised bier, soapbox, or similar platform, often movable, that is used to support the casket, coffin, or body of the deceased during a funeral or memorial service. Following a Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, a catafalque may be used to stand in place of the body at the Absolution of...

 which is used to support coffin
Coffin
A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation.Contemporary North American English makes a distinction between "coffin", which is generally understood to denote a funerary box having six sides in plan view, and "casket", which...

s lying in state or honor in the Capitol. The catafalque is now on display in the Capitol Visitors Center for the general public to see when not in use.

In the basement of the Capitol building in a utility room are two marble bathtubs, which are all that remain of the once elaborate Senate baths. These baths were a spa
Spa
The term spa is associated with water treatment which is also known as balneotherapy. Spa towns or spa resorts typically offer various health treatments. The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times. Such practices have been popular worldwide, but are...

-like facility designed for members of Congress and their guests before many buildings in the city had modern plumbing. The facilities included several bathtubs, a barbershop, and a massage parlor
Massage parlor
A massage parlor is a business where customers can receive a massage. Sometimes the term is synonymous with brothel as the term "massage" may be used as a euphemism for paid sexual favours....

.

A steep, metal staircase, totaling 365 steps, leads from the basement to an outdoor walkway on top of the Capitol's dome. The number of steps represents each day of the year.

Height


Contrary to popular belief, DC building height laws have never referenced the height of the Capitol building, which rises to 289 feet (88 m). Further adding evidence to this is the fact that the Capitol building is only the fifth tallest structure in Washington, D.C..

House Chamber


The House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Chamber has 448 permanent seats. Unlike Senators, Representatives do not have assigned seats. It is adorned with relief portraits
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

 of famous lawmakers and lawgivers throughout history. Of the twenty-three relief portraits only Moses is sculpted from a full front view and is located across from the dais where the Speaker of the House ceremonially sits.

In order clockwise around the chamber:

  • George Mason
    George Mason
    George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

  • Robert Joseph Pothier
    Robert Joseph Pothier
    Robert Joseph Pothier was a French jurist.He was born and died at Orléans, France and is buried in the Cathedral of Orleans. He studied law to qualify for the magistracy, and was appointed Judge in 1720 of the Presidial Court of Orléans, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather...

  • Jean Baptiste Colbert
  • Edward I
    Edward I of England
    Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

  • Alfonso X
    Alfonso X of Castile
    Alfonso X was a Castilian monarch who ruled as the King of Castile, León and Galicia from 1252 until his death...

  • Pope Gregory IX
    Pope Gregory IX
    Pope Gregory IX, born Ugolino di Conti, was pope from March 19, 1227 to August 22, 1241.The successor of Pope Honorius III , he fully inherited the traditions of Pope Gregory VII and of his uncle Pope Innocent III , and zealously continued their policy of Papal supremacy.-Early life:Ugolino was...

  • Saint Louis
    Louis IX of France
    Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

  • Justinian I
    Justinian I
    Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

  • Tribonian
    Tribonian
    Tribonian or Tribonianos was a jurist during the reign of the Emperor Justinian I, who revised the legal code of the Roman Empire.Tribonian was born in Pamphylia around the year 500...

  • Lycurgus
  • Hammurabi
    Hammurabi
    Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

  • Moses
    Moses
    Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...



  • Solon
    Solon
    Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens...

  • Papinian
    Aemilius Papinianus
    Aemilius Papinianus , also known as Papinian, was a celebrated Roman jurist, magister libellorum and, after the death of Gaius Fulvius Plautianus in 205, praetorian prefect.-Life:...

  • Gaius
    Gaius (jurist)
    Gaius was a celebrated Roman jurist. Scholars know very little of his personal life. It is impossible to discover even his full name, Gaius or Caius being merely his personal name...

  • Maimonides
    Maimonides
    Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

  • Suleiman the Magnificent
    Suleiman the Magnificent
    Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

  • Pope Innocent III
    Pope Innocent III
    Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

  • Simon de Montfort
    Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester
    Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, 1st Earl of Chester , sometimes referred to as Simon V de Montfort to distinguish him from other Simon de Montforts, was an Anglo-Norman nobleman. He led the barons' rebellion against King Henry III of England during the Second Barons' War of 1263-4, and...

  • Hugo Grotius
    Hugo Grotius
    Hugo Grotius , also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot, was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law...

  • Sir William Blackstone
    William Blackstone
    Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

  • Napoleon I
    Napoleon I of France
    Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

  • Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...


There is also a quote etched in the marble of the chamber, as stated by venerable statesman Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

: "Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered."

Senate Chamber



The current Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Chamber opened in 1859 and is adorned with white marble busts
United States Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection
The United States Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection is a series of 44 busts in the United States Capitol, each one bearing the likenesses of a Vice President of the United States. Each sculpture, from John Adams to Dan Quayle, honors the role of the Vice President as both a member of the...

 of the former Presidents of the Senate (Vice Presidents).

Old Supreme Court Chamber


From 1800 to 1806, this room served as the Senate Chamber and from 1806 until 1860, the room was used as the Supreme Court Chamber. In 1860, the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 began using the newly vacated Old Senate Chamber
Old Senate Chamber
The Old Senate Chamber is a room in the United States Capitol that was the legislative chamber of the United States Senate from 1810 to 1859. It was designed in Neoclassical style and is elaborately decorated...

. Since 1935, the Supreme Court has met in the United States Supreme Court Building
United States Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court Building is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is situated in Washington, D.C. at 1 First Street, NE, on the block immediately east of the United States Capitol. The building is under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol. On May 4, 1987, the Supreme...

.

Grounds




The Capitol Grounds
United States Capitol Complex
The United States Capitol Complex is a group of about a dozen buildings and facilities in Washington, D.C., that are used by the United States government...

 cover approximately 274 acres (1.11 km²), with the grounds proper consisting mostly of lawns, walkways, streets, drives, and planting areas. Formerly, a number of monumental sculptures were located on the east facade and lawn of the Capitol including The Rescue
The Rescue (statue)
The Rescue is a large marble sculpture group assembled in front of the east façade of the United States Capitol building and exhibited there from 1853 until 1958 when it was removed and never restored. The sculptural ensemble was created by sculptor Horatio Greenough who had previously been...

and George Washington
George Washington (statue)
George Washington is a massive sculpture by Horatio Greenough commissioned for the centennial of U.S President George Washington's birth in February 22, 1732.-Description:...

. The current grounds were designed by noted American landscape architect
Landscape architect
A landscape architect is a person involved in the planning, design and sometimes direction of a landscape, garden, or distinct space. The professional practice is known as landscape architecture....

 Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted was an American journalist, social critic, public administrator, and landscape designer. He is popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture, although many scholars have bestowed that title upon Andrew Jackson Downing...

, who planned the expansion and landscaping performed from 1874 to 1892. In 1875, as one of his first recommendations, Olmsted proposed the construction of the marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 terraces on the north, west, and south sides of the building that exist today.

Olmsted also designed the Summer House, the open-air brick building that sits just north of the Capitol. Three arch
Arch
An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

es open into the hexagonal structure, which encloses a fountain and twenty-two brick chairs. A fourth wall holds a small window that looks onto an artificial grotto
Grotto
A grotto is any type of natural or artificial cave that is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans. When it is not an artificial garden feature, a grotto is often a small cave near water and often flooded or liable to flood at high tide...

. Built between 1879 and 1881, the Summer House was intended to answer complaints that visitors to the Capitol had no place to sit and no place to obtain water for their horses and themselves. Modern drinking fountains have since replaced Olmsted's fountain for the latter purpose. Olmsted intended to build a second, matching Summer House on the southern side of the Capitol, but congressional objections led to the project's cancellation.

Flags


Up to four U.S. flags
Flag of the United States
The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

 can be seen flying over the Capitol. Two flagpoles are located at the base of the dome on the East and West sides. These flagpoles have flown the flag day and night since World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The other two flagpoles are above the North (Senate) and South (House of Representatives) wings of the building, and fly only when the chamber below is in session. The flag above the House of Representatives is raised and lowered by House pages
United States House of Representatives Page
United States House of Representatives Page Program was a program run by the United States House of Representatives, under the office of the Clerk of the House, in which appointed high school juniors acted as non-partisan federal employees in the House of Representatives, providing supplemental...

. The flag above the United States Senate is raised and lowered by Senate Doorkeepers. To raise the flag, Doorkeepers access the roof of the Capitol from the Senate Sergeant at Arms'
Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate
The Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate is the law enforcer for the United States Senate. One of the chief roles of the Sergeant is to hold the gavel used at every session...

 office. Several auxiliary flagpoles, to the west of the dome and not visible from the ground, are used to meet congressional requests for flags flown over the Capitol. Constituents
Electoral district
An electoral district is a distinct territorial subdivision for holding a separate election for one or more seats in a legislative body...

 pay for U.S. flags flown over the Capitol to commemorate a variety of events such as the death of a veteran
Veteran
A veteran is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..."...

 family member.

Major events



The Capitol, as well as the grounds of Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
Capitol Hill, aside from being a metonym for the United States Congress, is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C., stretching easterly in front of the United States Capitol along wide avenues...

, have played host to major events, including presidential inaugurations held every four years. During an inauguration, the front of the Capitol is outfitted with a platform and a grand staircase. Annual events at the Capitol include Independence Day
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 celebrations, and the National Memorial Day Concert
National Memorial Day Concert
The National Memorial Day Concert is a free annual concert performed on the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in celebration of Memorial Day since 1989...

.
The general public has paid respect to a number of individuals lying in state
Lying in state
Lying in state is a term used to describe the tradition in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public at large to pay their respects to the deceased. It traditionally takes place in the principal government building of a country or city...

 at the Capitol, including numerous former presidents, senators, and other officials. Other Americans lying in honor include Officers
United States Capitol Police
The United States Capitol Police is a federal police force charged with protecting the United States Congress within the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories.-History:...

 Jacob Chestnut
Jacob Chestnut
Jacob Joseph Chestnut , one of the two United States Capitol Police officers killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998, was the first African American to lie in honor in the United States Capitol. Chestnut is buried in Arlington National Cemetery...

 and John Gibson
John Gibson (police officer)
John Michael Gibson was a United States Capitol Police detective assigned to the dignitary protection detail of Congressman Tom DeLay. Gibson was one of two people killed inside the United States Capitol during a 1998 shooting rampage.-Personal life:Gibson was a native of Boston, Massachusetts...

, the two officers killed in the 1998 shooting incident
United States Capitol shooting incident (1998)
The United States Capitol shooting incident of 1998 was an attack on July 24, 1998 which led to the death of two United States Capitol Police officers. Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut were killed when Russell Eugene Weston Jr. entered the Capitol and opened fire...

. Chestnut was the first African American ever to lie in honor in the Capitol. The public also paid respect to civil rights icon Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement"....

 at the Capitol in 2005. She was the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the Capitol.

Security


On January 30, 1835, what is believed to be the first attempt to kill a sitting President of the United States occurred just outside the United States Capitol. When President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 was leaving the Capitol out of the East Portico after the funeral of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 Representative Warren R. Davis
Warren R. Davis
Warren Ransom Davis was an American attorney and Representative from South Carolina's 6th congressional district from 1827-35....

, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed and deranged housepainter from England, either burst from a crowd or stepped out from hiding behind a column and aimed a pistol at Jackson which misfired. Lawrence then pulled out a second pistol which also misfired. It has since been postulated that the moisture from the humid weather of the day contributed to the double misfiring. Lawrence was then restrained, with legend saying that Jackson attacked Lawrence with his cane, prompting his aides to restrain him. Others present, including David Crockett
Davy Crockett
David "Davy" Crockett was a celebrated 19th century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is commonly referred to in popular culture by the epithet "King of the Wild Frontier". He represented Tennessee in the U.S...

, restrained and disarmed Lawrence.

On July 2, 1915, prior to the United States' entry into World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Eric Muenter
Eric Muenter
Eric Muenter , also known as Erich Holt or Frank Holt, was an accused, German-born would-be assassin.-Biography:He moved to the U.S. and taught German language courses. Muenter opposed the U.S.'s supplying of armaments to Germany's enemies in World War I...

 (aka Frank Holt), a German professor who wanted to stop American support of the Allies in World War I
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

, exploded a bomb in the reception room of the U.S. Senate. The next morning he tried to assassinate J. P. Morgan, Jr.
J. P. Morgan, Jr.
John Pierpont "Jack" Morgan, Jr. was an American banker and philanthropist.-Biography:He was born on September 7, 1867 in Irvington, New York to John Pierpont Morgan, Sr. and Frances Louisa Tracy. He graduated from Harvard in 1886, where he was a member of the Delphic Club, formerly known as the...

, son of the financier
J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric...

, at his home on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, New York. In a letter to the Washington Evening Star
Washington Star
The Washington Star, previously known as the Washington Star-News and the Washington Evening Star, was a daily afternoon newspaper published in Washington, D.C. between 1852 and 1981. For most of that time, it was the city's newspaper of record, and the longtime home to columnist Mary McGrory and...

published after the explosion, Muenter writing under an assumed name, said he hoped that the detonation would “make enough noise to be heard above the voices that clamor for war.” J.P. Morgan’s company
J.P. Morgan & Co.
J.P. Morgan & Co. was a commercial and investment banking institution based in the United States founded by J. Pierpont Morgan and commonly known as the House of Morgan or simply Morgan. Today, J.P...

 served as Great Britain’s principal U.S. purchasing agent for munitions
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 and other war supplies.


In 1954, Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire on members of Congress from the visitors' gallery. On March 1, 1971, a bomb exploded on the ground floor of the Capitol, placed by the radical left
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 domestic terrorist
Domestic terrorism in the United States
Domestic terrorism in the United States between 1980 and 2000 consisted of 250 of the 335 incidents confirmed as or suspected to be terrorist acts by the FBI. These 250 attacks are considered domestic by the FBI because they were carried out by U.S...

 group, the Weather Underground. They placed the bomb as a demonstration against U.S. involvement in Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

. On November 7, 1983, a group called the Armed Resistance Unit claimed responsibility for a bomb
1983 United States Senate bombing
The 1983 U.S. Senate bombing was a bomb explosion at the United States Senate on November 7, 1983. Six members of the "Resistance Conspiracy" were arrested in May 1988 and charged with the bombing, as well as related bombings of Fort McNair and the Washington Navy Yard.On that day, the Senate...

 that detonated in the lobby outside the office of Senate Minority Leader
Party leaders of the United States Senate
The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are two United States Senators who are elected by the party conferences that hold the majority and the minority respectively. These leaders serve as the chief Senate spokespeople for their parties and manage and schedule the legislative and executive...

 Robert Byrd
Robert Byrd
Robert Carlyle Byrd was a United States Senator from West Virginia. A member of the Democratic Party, Byrd served as a U.S. Representative from 1953 until 1959 and as a U.S. Senator from 1959 to 2010...

. Six people associated with the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee
John Brown Anti-Klan Committee
The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee was an anti-racist organization based in the United States. The group protested against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations and published anti-racist literature. Members of the JBAKC were involved in a string of bombings of military,...

 were later found in contempt of court
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

 for refusing to testify about the bombing. In 1990, three members of the Armed Resistance Unit were convicted of the bombing, which they claimed was in response to the invasion of Grenada
Invasion of Grenada
The Invasion of Grenada, codenamed Operation Urgent Fury, was a 1983 United States-led invasion of Grenada, a Caribbean island nation with a population of about 100,000 located north of Venezuela. Triggered by a military coup which had ousted a four-year revolutionary government, the invasion...

. On July 24, 1998, Russell Eugene Weston Jr. burst into the Capitol
United States Capitol shooting incident (1998)
The United States Capitol shooting incident of 1998 was an attack on July 24, 1998 which led to the death of two United States Capitol Police officers. Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut were killed when Russell Eugene Weston Jr. entered the Capitol and opened fire...

 and opened fire, killing two Capitol Police
United States Capitol Police
The United States Capitol Police is a federal police force charged with protecting the United States Congress within the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories.-History:...

 officers. The Capitol is believed to have been the intended target of the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93
United Airlines Flight 93
United Airlines Flight 93 was United Airlines' scheduled morning transcontinental flight across the United States from Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco International Airport in California. On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the Boeing 757–222 aircraft operating the...

 on September 11, 2001, before it crashed near Shanksville in Somerset County
Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Somerset County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. As of 2010, the population was 77,742. Somerset County was created on April 17, 1795, from part of Bedford County and named for Somerset, United Kingdom. Its county seat is Somerset. It is part of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania,...

, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to take over control of the plane from hijackers.

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the roads and grounds around the Capitol have undergone dramatic changes. The United States Capitol Police have also installed checkpoints to inspect vehicles at specific locations around Capitol Hill, and have closed a section of one street indefinitely. The level of screening employed varies. On the main east-west thoroughfares of Constitution
Constitution Avenue
In Washington, D.C., Constitution Avenue is a major east-west street running just north of the United States Capitol in the city's Northwest and Northeast quadrants...

 and Independence Avenues, barricade
Barricade
Barricade, from the French barrique , is any object or structure that creates a barrier or obstacle to control, block passage or force the flow of traffic in the desired direction...

s are implanted in the roads that can be raised in the event of an emergency. Trucks larger than pickups
Pickup truck
A pickup truck is a light motor vehicle with an open-top rear cargo area .-Definition:...

 are interdicted by the Capitol Police and are instructed to use other routes. On the checkpoints at the shorter cross streets, the barriers are typically kept in a permanent "emergency" position, and only vehicles with special permits are allowed to pass. All Capitol visitors are screened by a magnetometer
Magnetometer
A magnetometer is a measuring instrument used to measure the strength or direction of a magnetic field either produced in the laboratory or existing in nature...

, and all items that visitors may bring inside the building are screened by an x-ray device. The Capitol bans weapons, battery operated devices (though cameras and cellular phones are allowed), recording devices, large bags, cans, bottles, creams, perfumes, strollers, food, beverages and knives in the Capitol Visitor Center. In both chambers, gas masks are located underneath the chairs in each chamber for members to use in case of emergency. Structures ranging from scores of Jersey barrier
Jersey barrier
A Jersey barrier or Jersey wall is a modular concrete barrier employed to separate lanes of traffic. It is designed to both minimize vehicle damage in cases of incidental contact while still preventing crossover in the case of head-on accidents....

s to hundreds of ornamental bollard
Bollard
A bollard is a short vertical post. Originally it meant a post used on a ship or a quay, principally for mooring. The word now also describes a variety of structures to control or direct road traffic, such as posts arranged in a line to obstruct the passage of motor vehicles...

s have been erected to obstruct the path of any vehicles that might stray from the designated roadways.

Capitol Visitor Center


The underground, three-level, 580000 square feet (53,883.8 m²) United States Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) opened on December 2, 2008. The CVC is meant to bring all visitors in through one handicap accessible security checkpoint, yards away from the Capitol itself, increasing security and offering visitors a place to eat, use the restroom, and learn. The estimated final cost of constructing the CVC was US$621 million. The project had long been in the planning stages, but the 1998 killings of two Capitol Police officers provided the impetus to start work. Construction began in the fall of 2001.

Critics say that security improvements have been the least of the project's expense. Construction delays and added features by Congress added greatly to the cost. Citizens Against Government Waste
Citizens Against Government Waste
Citizens Against Government Waste is a 501 non-profit organization in the United States. It functions as a think-tank, 'government watchdog', and advocacy group for fiscally conservative causes...

 have called the CVC a "Monument to Waste". However many, including those who work in the Capitol, consider it a necessary and appropriate historical project. It is located completely underground, though skylights provide views of the Capitol dome.

See also



  • Apotheosis of Democracy
    Apotheosis of Democracy
    Apotheosis of Democracy is a public artwork by American sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett, located on the United States Capitol House of Representatives portico's east front in Washington, D.C., United States...

     by Paul Wayland Bartlett
    Paul Wayland Bartlett
    Paul Wayland Bartlett was an American sculptor working in the Beaux-Arts tradition of heroic realism. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Truman Howe Bartlett, an art critic and sculptor....

    , a pediment on the east front of the House of Representatives Portico.

Further reading


External links