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The Capitol Building
The U.S. Capitol Building is home to the Legislative Branch of the United States Government. This branch includes the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate and the House are responsible for proposing, debating and passing laws for our country (with the approval of the President).
The building is unique and displays an important collection of American art. In fact, the architecture of the Capitol Building itself is quite a masterpiece of artful design and has become an iconic symbol of democracy internationally. Besides the beautiful grounds and historic structures built on them, there is a new structure which has been build underground. The U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center is adjacent to the Capitol, but is built mostly underground.
Visitors may enter through the Visitor’s Center, which has an Exhibition Hall, gift shops, and a restaurant. Visitors can make reservations to tour the Capitol Building, and it is also possible to obtain passes to watch Congress in session. Some special programs and tours are also offered.
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Interesting Facts for the United States Capitol
Construction of the building began in 1793. President George Washington laid the cornerstone on September 18.
From 1899 to 1910, there was a law in place that made it illegal to construct within the limits of Washington D.C. any building taller than the Capitol Building.
The Capitol nearly burned to the ground during the War of 1812. What saved it was the providential timing of a thunderstorm that put out the fire.
The iconic dome that we have come to associate with the Capitol Building wasn’t added to the building until the 1850’s. The dome before it could not accommodate the expanding Congress as more senators were appointed to represent states that were added by the westward expansion.
United States House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov
United States Senate: http://www.senate.gov