United States Capitol

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A capital is a city that is home to a government. A capitol is a building where the legislature meets. For the capital of the United States, see Washington, D.C.
United States Capitol

The west face of the United States Capitol
General information
Architectural style American Neoclassicism
Town or city Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
Country United States of America
Construction started September 18, 1793
Cost $412,000
Technical details
Size 274 acres (1.11 km²)

The United States Capitol is the building where the United States Congress meets. It is the center of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall.

The capitol has a large dome in the center, above a rotunda—a large space that is shaped like a circle. There are two wings that are connected to the rotunda on opposite sides. The north wing is where the Senate meets and the south wing is where the House of Representatives meets. These wings are also called chambers. On the top floors of the chambers are galleries, or balconies where people can watch the Senate and House of Representatives from above.

The Statue of Freedom is on top of the capitol.

History[change | edit source]

The first capital city of the United States was New York City. At this time, Congress met in City Hall (Federal Hall) from 1785 to 1790. When the capital was moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1790 to 1800, the Philadelphia County Building (Congress Hall) became the capitol. In 1800, the capital moved again to Washington, D.C., and a new capitol building was built.

Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, 4 March 1861, beneath the unfinished capitol dome.

The capitol was designed by William Thornton. Construction started in 1793, but it was not completely finished until almost twenty years later. The Senate started to meet in the capitol in 1800, when the Senate wing was finished. The House started to meet in the capitol in 1807, even though the House wing was not finished until 1811.

At that time, it was not as big as it is now. The dome in the center of the building was smaller and made of wood. In 1814, the capitol was set on fire by the British Army during the War of 1812. In the 1850s and 1860s, the capitol was fully repaired, and the wooden dome was replaced with a larger iron dome. The walls of the Senate wing were painted with many murals about events in American History. Inside the rotunda, a large fresco was also painted on the ceiling during the repair.

The Supreme Court also met in the Capitol until its own building was completed in 1935.


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