One of the things I was most excited about on my recent trip to Washington D.C. was the change to see the Capital. For me what that building represents is far greater than the things that actually go on inside it. Sure there are many people that despise politics, and at times I am one of them. But this is not meant to be a political post and I do not want it to turn into one.
Instead, I want to look at the beauty that is our nation’s capitol. The U.S. Capitol building has gone through many changes over the years. George Washington laid the cornerstone in 1793 and since then it has only grown in both size and importance. It would be years until the entire complex was complete, and even included a fire which we will get to in a minute.
During the War of 1812 it is famously known that the British burned the White House, but they also burned the Capitol. Luckily a rainstorm prevented the complete destruction of the building.
The building was not complete until 1826, but even at that time it was not the same as you know it today. It continued to grow. This is what it looked like in 1846:
Now that looks very close to the original intentions of the building, but as the United States grew the Capitol needed to grow too. By 1850 the number of states in the Union had more than doubled and thus required more space for the government in Washington.
I find it interesting that a future president, of a rouge nation anyway, that introduced the appropriation bill to expand the Capitol, Jefferson Davis. This was in 1850. And by 1868 the building had been expanded including a new and larger dome to match the new larger building.
But many people do not know that the Capitol grounds includes more than just the main building that everyone has grown to know. It also includes six House and Senate buildings, the Supreme Court Building, the US Botanic Gardens, and other structures as well. It is not well known that the Supreme Court actually worked out of the Capitol for years.
The US Capitol website has put out a great video that shows the evolution of the buildings from the Capitol to the Supreme Court building. Check it out here:
As you may have learned in school, and coming from a high school history teacher I hope you did, the Capitol has great influence from both Greek and Roman architecture. It is a beautiful building inside and out. You can tour the building if you are in Washington, and I recommend walking around the grounds. It truly is a beautiful building and one I was really glad to photograph. However, due to time constraints I was not able to see it all. I can’t wait to get back to see more. Here are a few of my shots as I walked around the outside of the building.
For more information on tours, history, or what goes on in the Capitol, go to VisitTheCapitol.gov