||S I G H T S
THE U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING
Friday, October 29, 2004
Highlights: Home of the U.S. Congress, North Wing (Senate), South Wing (House of Representatives), Central Dome, Capitol Rotunda.
Lowlights: Limited to what I can see because Congress was in session.
Location: Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
Hours: Guided tours conducted from 9:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Saturday.
Access: A variety of services are available to the handicapped.
Addl Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Capitol
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All the folks who conjure and create the federal laws of America have to work somewhere. And what better place to work than in the U.S. Capitol Building. Their current home, sitting atop Capitol Hill, is actually the 4th U.S. Capitol. The other three were located in Maryland, New York, and Philadelphia.
In 1793 the construction of the current U.S. Capitol began. Seven years into the project, the Senate Wing was completed, eleven years after that the House Wing was completed. Shortly thereafter, during the War of 1812, the British burned a good portion of the Capitol Building down. Reconstruction began in 1815 and was completed fifteen years later in 1830. Starting in 1850 the building was expanded to include an enlarged dome. Atop the dome they erected a colossal 19-foot statue called Freedom.
One of the predominant spaces within the Capitol Building is the Capitol Rotunda. It is there you'll find an enormous fresco on the ceiling of the dome, depicting George Washington, who's draped in a purple robe and surrounded by various mythical characters. Statues of various famous people are scattered about the Rotunda's perimeter. The center of its floor has held court to a number of departed Presidents, where their bodies and/or coffins have been presented for public display.
Traveling north from the Rotunda will take you to the Capitol's North Wing and home of the U.S. Senate. In the opposite direction you'll find the Capitol's South Wing and home of the U.S. House of Representatives. The basement houses a visitor center of sorts, providing a slew of information about the history of the U.S. Capitol. The Capitol Visitors Center (CVC) is its planned replacement. Slated to open in 2006, the CVC will be a mammoth underground complex located within the front grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building.
I'm about to get my tour ticket, do you want me to get you one? I think the tour should be very enlightening, I've always wanted to tour the U.S. Capitol, the seat of America's federal legislative powers! How about you?
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