I’ll admit it: I’m currently reading the latest Dan Brown book. It’s like I’m supposed to be a bit ashamed, but it’s also the best-selling adult novel ever, and I’m certainly in great company. If you’re unfamiliar, The Lost Symbol involves the standard Robert Langdon-style hunt for symbols and clues through several famous historical sites, including the U.S. Capitol Building.
I’m sure Brown is well-known for taking certain liberties with the past, So I thought I’d explore some of the Capitol’s most interesting features for myself.
1. The Capitol was constructed after Thomas Jefferson held a design contest that sought entries from the most renowned architects in America.
The prize was $500; however, the only entry that got close to it was that of a French architect from France. Their design of his was too costly. It was a long way off, so the hunt was on. Then, a postponed entry of William Thornton did the trick. Washington, as well as Jefferson, both praised the design, and the style was picked.
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2. The Capitol has its own subway.
It certainly isn’t smelling like the subways that we normally smell. It’s been around in some variations since 1909 and transports political figures between House and Senate offices to the Capitol.
3. There was a plan to bury the President
There was a plan to bury the President who was the first to take office, beneath the Capitol building in a place called the Crypt.
Designers even got permission from Martha Washington to do so. The time was right to transfer his body away from Mt. Vernon in D.C. plans fell out of the window because Washington’s will stated that his final resting spot would be Mt. Vernon. Vernon. Crypt is now used to store a portion of items from the National Statuary Hall Collection and host the gift shop. You can still see the place where the tomb was to be placed — you can see it in the photo above.
4. George Washington himself laid the cornerstone of the Capitol on the 18th of September, 1793.
According to Dan Brown said, it was the result of a Masonic ceremony.
5. The law prohibited any structure within D.C. from being built higher than the Capitol.
It may be comparable in height to Capitol in size, but it can’t be greater than it. It was passed in 1899, but the law was not in use for long. The law was changed in 1910, and today the Capitol is just the fifth-tallest structure within the District of Columbia. It’s smaller compared to the Washington Monument, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, The Old Post Office, and the Washington National Cathedral.
6. The statue which is atop the dome is known as”the Statue of Freedom.
If she fell off, someone else below would likely be hurt. With 15,000 pounds, I’m betting that the old lady would cause more than just a bit of damage. She’s 19 and a half feet tall. It was lowered from the top of her pedestal for the very first time back in 1993 in the much-needed renovation (pictured in the above photo). You’d also need Spackling when you were 130 years old.
7. If you’ve ever considered that the Capitol seems to be in reverse, You’re not alone.
Many have wondered what the reason the building is set toward the Mall instead of facing it, as is the case with many other significant monuments and structures. The reason, as per the Capitol website, is that the east part of the Capitol is the only one that has an even surface for a suitable entrance. Therefore this is why the Capitol, as well as the monument that is on top of it, faces to the east towards those who will be entering it.
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8. The Capitol’s Architects Capitol supervises the operation, maintenance, and conservation of all the Capitol grounds and buildings.
A mere 11 people held this post from the beginning of William Thornton in 1793. The current architect Ayers is Stephen T. Ayers.
9. The Capitol was not a success in the War of 1812 and was nearly destroyed to the ground.
It could have been an ash pile if a timely storm had not put out the fire. The building was fairly destroyed, and The Library of Congress was.
10. The famous dome we recognize in the present wasn’t built on top of the building up to the 1850s.
Under the supervision of Thomas U. Walter, the fourth architect. The photo shows the initial dome, which the third architect Charles Bulfinch added. The reason for this was significant additions made in the Capitol. While it was rebuilt following the War of 1812 fiasco, the size of the rooms for politicians increased as states were added and more lawmakers occupied the building. When the Capitol building was expanded to accommodate the new building, the Bulfinch dome seemed odd and unnatural. The building for the dome was eleven years (Lincoln was sworn in beneath the half-finished dome) and almost 9 million pounds of iron.