Capitol (Washington)

The Capitol ( English United States Capitol) is the seat of Congress , the legislative (law) of the United States of America , in Washington, DC find him in meetings of the Senate (Senate) and the House of Representatives (House of Representatives) instead. In addition to the Houses of Parliament that houses neoclassical building numerous works on the history of the United States. It is equipped with three to five million visitors each year one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

It was built in 1793 to 1823 and from 1851 to 1863 greatly extended building consists of a rotunda with a dome, which are followed by the two parliamentary wing. The Capitol is 229 meters long, up to 107 meters wide and 88 meters at its highest point high. The Capitol was after the White House ‘s first major building in Washington, DC, which was created by the city around. Just around the Capitol is the capitol complex , which includes amongst others, the Library of Congress and the building of the Supreme Court include.

Construction supervision and management of the Capitol and the Capitol complex responsibility of the architect of the Capitol . Influential architects in architectural history were William Thornton , of which the original planning dates, Henry Latrobe , who completed the Capitol in its first version, and Thomas U. Walter , of the origin of the present form of the dome and the extensions of the side wings.

The name derives from the main capitol of Rome’s seven hills , the Capitoline Hill , from. In the period of classicism whose name was transferred to other buildings, including the headquarters of the American Parliament. He should emphasize that the republican tradition, in the U.S. view.

Aerial view of the Capitol complex and the National Mall from northeast

The Capitol is located in Washington, DC on a plateau about 30 meters above the nearby Potomac River rises. Since the Capitol the first large building to the White House was that the capital plan was built in Washington, the rest of the city was built around it. The architect Washington, Pierre Charles L’Enfant , settled in shaping the city from the palace at Versailles inspired. Therefore, the roads run around the Capitol around the checkerboard pattern with diagonal blocks. Even today there are several grassy areas, parks and public spaces in the immediate vicinity of the Capitol.

It lies at the eastern end of the National Mall, the heart of the Capitol complex on the top of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC is from the west side of the Capitol a visual connection to the Washington Monument in the center of the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial at the west end of the Mall Originally from Capitol also a line of sight to the north-west the White House. This was the deep quarreling with Congress President Andrew Jackson , however, build a building by the Ministry of Finance.

Other buildings of the Capitol Complex, for example, the Library of Congress , the building of the Supreme Court , the office building of the Congress and the power station that supplies the entire complex. With the area include the Botanical Garden of Congress and various works of art and statues. Major roads that pass by the Capitol, the First Street , the Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue .

Since the Capitol was planned as the center of Washington, DC, wearing all addresses in the city marking the NE (North East), NW (North West), SE (South East) or SW (South West), depending on where they be in relation to the rotunda of the building. In the rotunda itself is a stone in the floor marks the point at which meet the four districts. Since the Capitol but is not exactly in the center of Washington, it means that the western districts are a bit larger than the eastern districts.

A network of tunnels and a private underground system, the Congressional Subway , connecting the Capitol with the office buildings of the two chambers of parliament.
Architectural History

The Capitol has a convoluted and initially characterized by faulty designs architectural history, which continues today. After the decision to build a capital plan, construction work began at the Capitol 1793. 1800, the north wing was finished, before the entire building was erected, however, British troops destroyed it in the War of 1812 largely. Until its completion in 1826 the first six specific architects under six U.S. presidents about the shape of the building. Several extensions and alterations to 1863 significantly changed the face; among other things, they created the characteristic shape of the dome today. The 20th Century saw mainly the extension of the Capitol to the Capitol complex: from Members’ offices, the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court moved from the Capitol and adjacent new building. In the Capitol itself the Eastern Front moved a few feet forward. Defining construction project in the early 21st Century is a great new visitor center, which is located underground beneath the Capitol.
History: 1791-1793
Bidding competition for Kapitolbau in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia) 24 March 1792

The Continental Congress , the forerunner of the U.S. Congress met in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York , Princeton, Annapolis ( Maryland State House ) and Trenton. The United States Congress convened after its establishment in 1789 in the Federal Hall in New York City. Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution then saw before a capital plan as the new capital of the United States. But this had yet to be built. Maryland entered the United States from 10 square miles of land on which they could build the capital. With the “Residence Act” of 1791, Congress passed the later relocation. During the construction phase of the Congress from 1790 to 1800 went to the Congress Hall in the provisional capital at Philadelphia. The Capitol should be the center of the new capital. The Capitol was built on the Jenkin’s Hill, later Capitol Hill.

Thomas Jefferson himself initially planned a design for the Capitol. However, since this was not compatible with the minister, which he held, Congress appointed a committee for the District of Columbia, Washington should plan the design and construction of the Capitol. This three-member committee awarded the contract to Pierre L’Enfant , who had planned the expansion of Federal Hall. Since L’Enfant refused, however, to produce drawings insisted that he had the design in mind, and also refused to accept the instructions of the Committee, the Commission separated before the building of L’Enfant.

In March 1792, she wrote to Jefferson’s initiative of a contest. The jury included alongside Jefferson even George Washington and the Committee on the District of Columbia. Although the tender published in March 1792 contained information about the size and tonnage of the building, but no stylistic guidelines. Most of the proposals submitted were based on Renaissance . However, Jefferson favored a stronger system modeled on ancient architectural styles of buildings, which is similar to the Pantheon in Rome should focus around a rotunda. The competition was won by the Scottish physician William Thornton. His design leaned against the French classicism of the 18th Century ago and saw two wings, between which there is a central section with a shallow dome. George Washington praised Thorntos design for its “grandeur, simplicity and convenience” (grandeur, simplicity and convenience). [1]
Start of construction to completion north wing: 1793-1800
Drawing of the Capitol in 1800

George Washington laid on 18 September 1793 the foundation stone for the future parliament. Where the foundation is right, can no longer be traced. Much of the construction work completed slaves, “the timber cut, the stones and laid the bricks baked” [2] . Originally recruited workers in Europe should build the building, but found the offer little support in Europe, so the builders resorted to slaves and later finishing on left free African Americans. [3]

The first two site managers were Stephen H. Hallet and George Hadfield, who do not hold office kept both because they tried to change the design of the building according to their performance. The now also commissioned the construction of the house president James Hoban took over the supervision of the Capitol. In 1800, construction workers placed the north wing completed. That same year, Congress and the Supreme Court moved into the building in spite of the ongoing construction work. The Congress held there on 17 November 1800 its first meeting.
Damage in the War of 1812 to the first completion: 1800-1829
The destroyed by British troops in 1814, of the Capitol building. With water color colored drawing by George Munger
Wing of the Capitol in 1842. Drawing from the Illustrated London News.
Capitol in 1846

1803 appointed acting President Thomas Jefferson, the architect Henry Latrobe Head of construction of government buildings in the District of Columbia. Material shortages and a lack of skilled workers abducted and increased the cost of construction. In 1806 the north wing was suffering under a leaky roof, crumbling plaster and moldy floors, making Latrobe began a complete redesign of the interior. The south wing was finally completed in 1811, but instead joined the planned means impressive part, only a covered walkway from the two wooden buildings. Since the Congress underlined the money for further construction to finance the war against Britain, Latrobe left Washington in 1813. On 24 August 1814 British troops put the building in the British-American war on fire. It burned to the outer walls of the north wing down completely, leaving in Latrobe’s words “A most magnificent ruin” [4] . In 1815 Henry Latrobe went back to Washington and could the interior and the middle section in the course of rebuilding completely new design. According to his plans, the interiors were decorated classically, for the middle section, he saw a rotunda dome and a flat front, which should be executed against Thornton’s plans mortared stone and not of wood.

For execution of the middle tract of Latrobe and after his plans but it never came, Latrobe exceeded the planned time frame and cost planning and Richard Bulfinch in 1817 charged with the continuation of the construction. This changed the plans again, he was more inclined toward the traditional classicism, and had a high dome classic wooden building with a copper cladding. Bulfinch also introduced for the first time marble as a building material, which had been discovered on the upper Potomac. Two new orders of columns reflected the growing American confidence against: crops of the country, which was based on American prosperity, decorated the capitals. Thus, the input received to the Senate capitals in the form of tobacco leaves, elsewhere capitals were decorated with corn on the cob and corn plants. The Capitol was completed in 1826. Bulfinch worked for three years at the interior before he left Washington in 1829.
First Expansion: 1851-1863
Construction work at the Capitol, 1860

Over the following years the United States grew in size and importance. In order to accommodate both the delegates of the new states can design as well as the Capitol representative, the Congress in 1851 wrote again a competition. Thomas U. Walter went with three other competitors emerged as the winner.

Be accepted by the Congress bill proposed an extension of the wing, which was located to the old wings at right angles. The additional structures had so their greatest extent in the east-west direction.

The line drawn through the extension wing in the building received a new coupling length massive scale. The dome he was by the St. Petersburg St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Paris Invalides inspiration, which is just like the Capitol dome held twice. In the middle of the inner dome is a oculus , through which one of the painted into the outer dome painting The Apotheosis of Washington can see. On the outside of the dome is since 1863 the statue Freedom ., the now no longer part of the building, built of wood was three times as high as its predecessor. A dome of this size in 1851 was a technical risk, because for the first time, cast iron was used to build such a large dome. Walter hoped, so to be able to restore the balance of classic proportions.

The site management was in 1853 at the hands of Montgomery C. Meigs of the Army Corps of Engineers . He also studied the painters and sculptors from which decorated the interiors, and beat them in front of the issues that should express the Euro-American domination of the continent.
Building extensions in the 20th Century
East side of the Capitol

However, the new dome set forth a new balance but dominated the building. 1904 began the construction of a new east side of the plan of the architects Carrère and Hastings followed, which also designed the then new office building of the Senate and House. 1958 construction began on a further extension of the east side. Originally built of sandstone facade was ten meters ahead of marble duplicated and connected to the old building. The old facade was retained, but now forms part of the interior design. Since this former entrance has been removed, were the Corinthian columns that adorned him before, temporarily homeless. Only landscape designer Russell Page gave them a new home in the National Arboretum , where they at the Capitol Reflection Pool are built around.
The Capitol Complex: 1897-1992
Current Map of the Capitol Complex

In addition to the construction work at the Capitol, which mainly concerned the outer shape of the building since 1863, emerged since the late 20th Century more buildings. The Capitol was home by then not only all the rooms of the Senate and House of Representatives, but the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court of the United States and the Federal District Courts .

With the progress of modernization, inner growth and the increase in the importance of the external U.S. started all institutions to hire new staff. For this equipment and their new premises were needed. The Congress bought land next to the Capitol and began to erect new buildings. From 1897 came the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (LOC), which built in 1939 and 1980 further buildings. 1908 or 1909 emerged the first external offices of the Senate (Senate Office Buildings – SOB) and the House of Representatives (House Office Buildings – HOB), whose number has now grown to seven. 1935, the Supreme Court moved into its new building, which since 1992 also has a further cultivation.

In addition to building on existing institutions were still the Congressional Subway added that connects the Capitol with the congressional office buildings, the Botanical Garden (United States Botanical Gardens, USBG) and its headquarters and its own power plant for the entire complex.
The new visitor center
→ Main article: United States Capitol Visitor Center

On 20 June 2000 began the construction of the new United States Capitol Visitor Center , on the second Opened in December 2008. The new field will facilitate their guests visit and help remove the previously existing lines of visitors from the parking lot. The Visitor Center consists of a large entrance hall, facilities for comprehensive safety inspections, two movie theaters, showrooms, restaurants and various rooms for the convention. One of them is a 450-seat plenary hall be, to be used for meetings, if the actual auditoriums are being renovated. The building is to cost 554 million USD and is under immense criticism, especially since the construction costs rose sharply since the start of construction, during the construction work should be original already completed in late 2005. The east side of the building, until 1981, most U.S. presidents swore their oath of office at the, was a building site for the period of reconstruction, but was scaled back to its previous state after completion of the work again.

The Capitol consists of a central rotunda , the east and west of porticoes is framed, as well as a north and a south wing, containing the work spaces and also have upstream porticoes. Older parts of the façade are still built in sandstone, the 1983-1987 to a large extent by limestone was replaced and reinforced with a stainless steel frame, built later parts of the building are framed in more stable marble. The western front with the main entrance through the gates Columbus turns to the National Mall. At the main entrance leading to two staircases on the west side. On the east side the two outside stairways on each house and the Senate wing. Below the Senate stairs is the metro station of the Congressional Subway.

On the rotunda sits an impressive dome, on the tip of the six-meter-high bronze statue Statue of Freedom stands. It shows a classical female figure freedom, whose hand rests on a sword. The figure wears a Roman helmet, which the American symbols feathers, bird claws and an eagle’s head crowned. The statue stands on a cast-iron globe on the “E Pluribus Unum” is engraved the motto of the United States.
West side of the Reflecting Pool

The Capitol has a floor area of ​​nearly 16,300 square meters, or just over 1.6 acres. From north to south it measures just 229 meters at its widest point, it is nearly 107 feet wide, from the base line on the eastern front of the tip to the Statue of Freedom is the height of nearly 88 meters. The wings have five floors, the building has 658 windows, of which 108 are in the dome.

The building can be up to four U.S. flags can see blow. Two of them are on the east and west side of the dome and were flown continuously since the First World War. The other two are located on the north and south wings, and are only brought up when the respective chamber of parliament convenes. Several other flag poles west of the dome can be flagged at the request of members of Congress, but are not visible from the ground.
Dome from inside

The Capitol housed in its three buildings with about 540 rooms and 850 transitions. The catalog includes numerous offices and committee rooms, the plenary of the House and Senate, the corresponding visitors galleries as well as numerous exhibition rooms and halls including the rotunda.

The main level of the building located on the second floor. Here are the main entrance accessible via exterior stairs on the west side, the bottom surface of the rotunda and the plenary of the House of Representatives and Senate. The third floor also contains the visitor and press galleries for the plenary and the offices of Parliament and parliamentary councils guides. On the first floor of the rotunda is the so-called Washington’s crypt, below the Chambers committee rooms and the offices of important Congress worker. Ground floor and the fourth floor there are offices, machinery spaces and other spaces that are mainly used to house maintenance.

In the building there is a strict separation between the northern and southern wings Senate House-wing, which is found also in the room descriptions: either wear this prefix S (Senate) or the prefix H (House). In the office buildings, this distinction continues. The Senate Office Building located north of the rotunda; rooms in them are as SOB (Senate Office Building) marked. House Building located south of the rotunda, their rooms are named HOB (House Office Building).

Scattered throughout the building are statues of the National Statuary Hall Collection – a total of 100 statues of famous Americans: two for each state who have chosen the states. Originally, the exhibition began in the south wing in the National Statuary Hall (Formerly: Old Hall), but now spreading throughout the building.
Rotunda and cupola
→ Main article: Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
Longitudinal section through rotunda and dome; Original drawing by Thomas U. Walter, 1859
Detail of the dome of the West

Visitors to the Capitol to pass through the new United States Capitol Visitor Center, the Rotunda. This has a diameter of over 29 meters and a height of almost 55 meters. From the ground floor up to the dome of the cathedral, there are 365 steps.

Under the Rotunda is one called “the Crypt” known section. Initially you should be able to look down on him from the grave of George Washington. However, his wife Martha thwarted the plan by him on his farm Mount Vernon was interred. Since Washington were eight presidents who died in office in state in the Rotunda, as well as the security men who were killed in the shooting spree at the Capitol in 1998, and finally the colored civil rights activist Rosa Parks . Normally, there are exhibitions on the history of the United States.

In the rotunda beneath the dome are eight paintings by various artists that show the development of the United States as a nation. On the east side, four of them major events in the discovery of America represents: the baptism of Pocahontas ‘( John Gadsby Chapman ), the landing of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower ( Robert W. Weir ), the discovery of the Mississippi River by Hernando de Soto ( William H. Powell ) and the landing of Columbus ( John Vanderlyn ). But the illustrations depict hardly the reality of American history. They rather give a picture of how the nation wanted to see in the 1850s itself, but to show how the early history of the United States actually was.

The signing of the: on the west side, representations of events from the Revolutionary War, see Declaration of Independence , the surrender of Lord Cornwallis , the surrender of General Burgoyne and George Washington , who is retiring after serving derived War as commander-in-chief. All paintings painted on the west side of the participants in the Revolutionary War John Trumbull , whose face you can discover in the background at the surrender of Cornwallis.

Constantino Brumidi painted directly into the dome, the Apotheosis of Washington . The dome below is a peripherally initiated by him through presentation of American history, in chronological order, with the landing of Christopher Columbus and ending with the flight of the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk ends. The painting began in 1878, Allyn Cox finally completed in 1987, worked between Brumidi and Cox still Filippo Castoggini and Charles Ayer Whipple on the artwork.

Are some recent sculptures in the rotunda, including a bust of Martin Luther King and a monument to the American women’s movement .


Surrender of Cornwallis (draft)

See also

Crypt of the U.S. Capitol
Lincoln catafalque
Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
United States Capitol Visitor Center
Statue of Freedom

North wing: Senate
Age boardroom of the Senate

In the Capitol there are numerous works of art that represent the American history and legislation. Brumidi in 1856 brought the first wall paintings in the hallway of the first floor on the Senate page. Known as “Brumidi Corridors” transitions show scenes from American history, but similar in the Rotunda rather they are the teleological historiography of the USA as a choice land for Europeans because committed a realistic representation of past events. The paintings painted by Brumidi, forming Benjamin Franklin , John Fitch , Robert Fulton and the Louisiana Purchase from. He also painted native animals and plants in the USA. He left intentionally blank space, so that later other events could be painted there. Among the new images, the Spirit of St. Louis , the moon landing and the Challenger crew. The same floor there is still a single marble bath. It is a relic of the once opulent bathrooms Senate, which was built by the Congress before Washington had a modern water supply. In them were the members of Congress bathtubs, visit a hair salon and a massage parlor.

On the same floor is the old meeting hall of the Supreme Court, which in 1972 returned to his state from the mid-19th Century has been restored. The 23 meter long and 16 meter wide area has a semi-circular ceiling. The interior is made of mahogany and the floor is where the judges sat, increased by 30 centimeters compared to the rest of the floor. This is one of the few parts of the building that survived the 1814 burning of the Capitol.

On the second floor is directly connected to the rotunda of the old meeting hall of the Senate to which is no longer used as such today and back to the state of the 19 Century has been restored. Not far away is the current meeting room, the interior of which at least in part, nor in the early 19th Century dates.

Age boardroom of the Supreme Court

Brumidi Corridors

Grey squirrel and mouse in the Brumidi Corridors

“Columbus and Indian girls” in the Brumidi Corridors

South wing of the House of Representatives
George W. Bush holds his State of the Union Address at the Plenary Hall of the House of Representatives, 2003.

On the first floor of the House-wing there is the so-called portico actually a passage which traverses the entire wing in North-South direction. It is named after the 28 marble columns that line the aisle. In variation of Corinthian columns here are also capitals with tobacco plants and other native plant species.

Directly to the rotunda closes on the second floor of the old meeting hall of the House of Representatives at the Statuary Hall. The built of sandstone, marble and plaster hall is the largest part of the National Statuary Collection. The hall was used from 1819 to 1857 as a meeting hall of the Repräsentenhauses; since its acoustics but resulted in echoes, the House finally moved to a new Chamber. After several plans to demolish or reconstruct it, the Congress decided to use the center for art exhibitions. He built around him and began to ask the States to make statues for the National Statuary Hall Collection. In 1990 the collection was finally complete, but had spread across the original hall of the State Capitol. In addition to the statues of famous Americans are two statues in the hall, which has the original meeting room adorned: Enrico Causicis Liberty and the Eagle once saw the Speaker of the House over the shoulder, is over the door of the rotunda Carlo Franzonis Car of History, the Clio , the muse of history, showing how they the car travels over time and recording the events in the courtroom. The cartwheel is the clock of the House of Representatives.

The current session hall of the House of Representatives plaques adorn famous legislator of Hammurabi and Solomon Islands on the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I , the French king Louis IX. , the writer Hugo Grotius and William Blackstone to Napoleon Bonaparte , George Mason and Thomas Jefferson .

Similar to the Senate and the House wing-wing houses patriotic works of fine art. Images Emanuel Leutze are distributed throughout the building, but the most famous work is Westward the course of empire takes its way : the 20 by 30 foot (about 6x9m) large mural is located in a stairway. Similar to the Brumidi corridors of the Senate-House located in the Cox -course, in 1971 the House of Representatives was in order. They are divided into three parts: first, they show how the Brumidi-course scenes from American history, including, for example, the Mayflower Compact , the Declaration of Independence , Abraham Lincoln’s second oath of office in 1865 or Suffragettenmarsch of 1917. Second, images of various buildings in which the U.S. Congress and its predecessors met, and the third maps and scenes from the exploration of the country, representing the growth of the United States. The youngest part dates from the years 1993/1994 and was executed by Ever Greene Painting Studios, Inc. to Cox ‘plans, as this was now dead.

National Statuary Hall Collection

Car of the story in the Statuary Hall

Westward the course of empire takes its way

Chapter tobacco


For security at the Capitol is the United States Capitol Police in charge. Were part of the building to 1969 freely available, since the Congress began to set up guards. Since the 11th September 2001 also increased the security measures at the Capitol. Contrary to the previous rules allowed visitors to enter the building only as part of a guided group. The new visitor center will serve, inter alia, to search visitors careful before entering the Capitol. In the streets around the Capitol around the Capitol Police also conducted a number of other measures. A road closed since it completely. [5] The Capitol Police has set up several checkpoints at which they can stop passing vehicles. On the main thoroughfares sank the police barricades, they can pull in an emergency. Trucks and minibuses are generally not allowed in these streets. In the side streets are generally erected the barricades, vehicles, it may happen only if the occupant can show a permit.

Apart from the roads, the Capitol Police erected numerous barriers. [6] They range from hundreds of bollards, which are adjacent to roadways, to concrete barriers ( Jersey barriers ) to prevent all that a vehicle leaving the roadway and on the Capitol grounds can drive.
In political life
John Roberts takes Barack Obama on the steps of the Capitol, the oath of office
Protesters march to the Capitol to

The Capitol and particularly its dome has become a symbol of the political America. In addition to the events that are directly related to the Congress, the Capitol and other reasons played a role in the political life of the United States again. Most presidents swore their oath of office in front of the Capitol. By 1977, before the Eastern Front, 1981 Ronald Reagan moved the procedure by example before the Western Front.

The Capitol is located on the back of the 50 dollar bill is an outspoken and tourist magnet. Every year, about 3 to 5 million visitors the building. But just as it is the aim of demonstrations that go on the National Mall to the Capitol.

Less peaceful protests against the United States have been held three times in the Capitol: 1954 nationalists opened from Puerto Rico from the visitors’ gallery of the fire to the Senate, but without causing any major damage. 1975 a bomb exploded in front of the Chamber of the Senate. On 24 July 1998 Russell Eugene Weston Jr. burst into the Capitol and opened fire on the audience. Two officers died in the United States Capitol Police . Weston was explained in the subsequent process of a court unable to blame. The Capitol was the likely target of terrorists, the United Airlines Flight 93 on 11 September 2001 brought into their power, but were stopped by the passengers to fly to their destination.

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