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Capitol (seat of the U.S. Congress)

Capitol, seat of the U.S. government at Washington, D.C. It is the city's dominating monument, built on an elevated site that was chosen by George Washington in consultation with Major Pierre L'Enfant. The building as it now stands took many years to build and is the result of the work of several architects. In 1792 a competition was held to select an architect, but William Thornton gained the president's approval with a plan separately submitted and was appointed. In 1793 the president set the cornerstone, with Masonic rites, and the building was begun. Later three additional architects were employed—E. S. Hallet, George Hadfield (d.1826), and James Hoban. In 1814 the uncompleted building was burned by the British, and B. H. Latrobe, who had been appointed (1803) surveyor of public buildings, undertook its restoration. He was succeeded in 1818 by Charles Bulfinch, who brought the design to completion in 1830.

The building proved inadequate in size and was greatly enlarged (1851–65) by T. U. Walter, who added the extensive House and Senate wings at either end and the imposing dome, c.288 ft (90 m) in height, which dominates the composition. Elaborate murals depicting a variety of inspirational American subjects, painted (1854–79) by the Italian-born fresco artist Constantino Brumidi (1805–80), adorn much of the Capitol's interior. The building proper is over 750 ft (229 m) long, including approaches c.350 ft (110 m) wide. In 1960 the east front of the Capitol was extended 32 ft (9.8 m), and the original sandstone facade was replaced by marble. The greater Capitol Complex includes (in addition to the Capitol itself) 274 acres (111 hectares) of grounds with gardens, monuments, memorials, a carillon, and fountains; the United States Botanic Gardens (est. 1820), one of the oldest such gardens in the nation, although the present conservatory dates only to 1933; the several House and Senate office buildings; the buildings of the Library of Congress; and the Supreme Court building.

See I. T. Frary, They Built the Capitol (1940); U.S. Capitol Historical Society, We, the People (11th ed. 2011); G. Gugliotta, Freedom's Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War (2012).

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Capitol

Capitol in ancient Rome, the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Saturnian or Tarpeian (afterwards called Capitoline) Hill in ancient Rome; the name is sometimes applied to the whole hill, including the citadel. The Capitol in literary terms is often seen as a symbol of Rome.

In the US, Capitol (usually the Capitol) is the name of the seat of the US Congress in Washington DC. The term in an American context in fact goes back to the late 17th century, in Virginia. Capitol Hill is the region around the Capitol in Washington DC (often as an allusive reference to the US Congress itself).

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Capitol

Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in which the US Congress convenes. The original architect was William Thornton, and the cornerstone was laid by George Washington in 1793. The British burned down the Capitol in 1814. Benjamin Latrobe and Charles Bulfinch worked on the restoration, which was completed in 1830. The dome reaches a height of 88m (288ft).

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Capitol

Cap·i·tol / ˈkapitl/ (usu. the Capitol) 1. the seat of the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC. ∎  (cap·i·tol) a building housing a legislative assembly: 50,000 people marched on New Jersey's state capitol. 2. the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome.

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Capitol (in Rome)

Capitol, in Rome: see Capitoline Hill.

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