US Capital

 
Aerial View of the Capital Building and the Mall
 
The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., houses an important collection of American art, and it is an architectural achievement in its own right. It is a working office building as well as a tourist attraction visited by millions every year.

On September 18, 1793, George Washington laid the U.S. Capitol cornerstone at the southeast corner of its foundation to mark the building of the nation's most symbolically important and architecturally impressive building.

The Capitol is the home of the U.S. Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate. The competition for its design was won by Dr. William Thornton, a gifted amateur architect who had studied medicine. Thornton placed a central shallow domed rotunda between the Senate and House wings.
 
 

The construction preceded under a succession of architects, Stephen Hallet (1793), George Hadfield (1795-1798) and James Hoban (1798-1802), architect of the White House, who completed the Senate wing in 1800. Benjamin Henry Latrobe was hired in 1803; by 1811 he had renovated the Senate wing and completed the House wing.
 
 
Picture circa 1800 after First Occupied
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture circa 1814 after The British set fire to the Capital
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In 1814, British troops set fire to the Capitol as well as the White House and other District buildings during the War of 1812. Fortunately, a rainstorm prevented the Capitol’s complete destruction, and in the following year Latrobe began its reconstruction and redesign. Charles Bulfinch, the brilliant Boston architect who succeeded Latrobe in 1818, completed the building in 1826 with only slight modifications of Latrobe's interior plan.

Although the Capitol was considered completed in 1826, by 1850 the need to enlarge the building became evident following the enormous territorial growth of the nation. The number of states in the union had more than doubled since 1793, and as the nation grew so did its Congress. Instead of thirty senators there were now sixty-two, and the House had grown from 69 representatives to 233. With a rapidly expanding Congress it was obvious that the building was too small.

In the 20th century, separate buildings were constructed to provide offices and committee rooms for the House and Senate. The Supreme Court moved into its own building in 1935. Today’s Capitol complex includes the Capitol, six major House and Senate buildings, three Library of Congress buildings, the Supreme Court Building, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and other facilities. In 1958–1962 the east central front of the Capitol was extended to add 90 new rooms.


 
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"If the people fail to vote, a government will be developed
which is not their government. The whole system of
American Government rests on the ballot box. Unless
citizens perform their duties there, such a system of
government is doomed to failure."
Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the USA.
 
 
 
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