Capitol Building: the Home of the United States Congress

The ​​Capitol Building of the United States.
The ​​Capitol Building of the United States.

An Overview

Capitol Hill is the home of the US Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the federal government. Capitol Hill is one of the most densely populated areas housing over 35,000 people within the area of 2 square miles. Its neighborhood expands to almost half the city with the large portion established as Capitol Hill Historic District. The original building was completed in 1800 and expanded in 2015 with the addition of a massive dome. The building assumes the neoclassical style just like the principle building of the executive and the judiciary.

The Main Features Of The Capitol Hill

The landmarks in Capitol Hill include Capitol, Court building, Library of the Congress, Marine Barrack, and a cemetery. The residential neighborhood is composed of rowhouses of different architectural design that existed in the early 19th century. The Pennsylvania Avenue which is a commercially lively street is the main non-residential corridor. The Barrack Row is among the oldest commercial rows in the city which dates back to the 18th century. Almost 30% of all the members of the Congress live in the Capitol Hill when they are in Washington. The Capitol building was used for religious services on Sundays as well as government functions for several decades.

The History And Construction Of The Capitol Building

The Capitol has housed the US Congress since 1800. It has also been a workplace for many of the residents of its neighborhood. The name Capitol Hill was suggested by Thomas Jefferson who was inspired by Capitoline Hill which was the Temple of Jupiter Optimum Maximus. The choice for the location of Capitol was made by Pierre L’Enfant who called the hill chosen for the House as Jenkins Hills. The track of land where the building currently stands belonged to the Carroll family who named it New Troy. The site was covered with thick wood. The Capitol Hill became a distinct community. The Capitol was designed by William Thornton in 1793 with the design selected for its simplicity, grandeur, and beauty. The inspiration behind Thornton design was the eastern front of the Louvre and Paris Pantheon. President George Washington laid the cornerstone for the construction of the building in September1793.

The construction work on the Senate wing was completed in 1800 while the House of Representatives on the south wing was finished in 1811. The Congress held its first session at the Capitol on November 17, 1800. The Capitol was partially burned in 1814 during the War of 1812. The reconstruction work in 1815 after the fire involved the redesigning of both the Senate and the House chambers. The reconstruction was completed in1819 with the Senate meetings held in Old Brick Capital during the reconstruction. The major expansion of the building began in 1958 with the extension of the East Portico. The dome also went through its last restoration during this expansion.

The Major Events At The Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill has hosted high profile invests most notable the presidential inauguration which is held every four years. The annual events that are held at the building are the Independence Day celebration and the memorial concerts. The public has also paid their last respect to high profile individuals lying in state including President Ronald Reagan, Officer Jacob Chestnut, and Rosa Parks among other persons. Pope Francis became the first Pope to address the Congress in a session that was held at the Capitol.


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