Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
United States Capitol
—East Front —
One of the icons of world architecture, the U.S. Capitol has been the meeting place of Congress since 1800. President George Washington laid the cornerstone on September 18, 1793. While under construction, the the building was damaged by British troops during the War of 1812 and subsequently restored. The Capitol was enlarged and the present cast-iron dome built in the 1850s and 1860s. Further additions included the Olmstead terraces on the west front in the 1880s and the east front extension in the 1950s. The most recent addition is the underground Capitol Visitor Center.
1. Statue of Freedom. The 19 1/2-foot-tall bronze statue, sculpted by Thomas Crawford in Rome and cast by Clark Foundry in the District of Columbia, was placed on its cast-iron pedestal in 1863. The classical figure wears a helmet with an eagle head and feathers and holds a sheathed sword, shield and victory wreath. The statue was restored in 1993.
2. House Pediment. The Apotheosis of Democracy by Paul Weyland Bartlett was installed in 1916. The central group is Peace Protecting Genius. On the left is a group called The Power of Labor: Agriculture, and on the right is a entitled The Power of Labor: Industry.
3. Center Pediment. Genius of America was originally carved in sandstone
4. Senate Pediment. The Progress of Civilization by Thomas Crawford was installed in 1863. A figure representing America stands in the center with an eagle by her side. To her left are figures representing America's early days, including a hunter and American Indians. The group on her right, including a soldier, a merchant, a teacher, and a student, represents the march of civilization.
General Plan for the Improvement of the U.S. Capitol Grounds
by Frederick Law Olmsted, 1874
Following the extension of the Capitol in the 1850s-1860s, the grounds were enlarged in 1872. In 1874 Congress commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted to design landscape improvements, and he soon produced this drawing, which guided the project over the next two decades. He described the plan as "very simple, with the purpose of its perfect subordination in interest to the architectural design of the Capitol." Olmsted's
1 Granite Lamp Piers & Bronze Fountains
Bay of Fundy granite was used for the massive piers that Olmsted designed to hold bronze gas-burning light fixtures. Electric sparks from copper wires and a remote battery originally ignited the lamps. The piers were constructed in 1875. Olmsted also designed the large granite basins, within which bronze fountains created rainbows by fine water sprays; the effect was continued at night under gas lights. The bronze was cast in 1875 by Janes, Kirtland and Company of New York, the same firm that cast most of the ironwork for the Capitol dome. The lamps, piers, fountains, and basins were restored during the Capitol Visitor Center construction project.
2 The Olmsted Terrace
Constructed in 1884-1892 on the north, west, and south sides of the Capitol, the marble terrace provided a strong visual platform, correcting the illusion that the massive building was about to slide down Capitol Hill. It also added much-needed space for storage, shops, and committee rooms.
Constructed in 1879-1880, the Summerhouse offered visitors a shaded place to rest, admire views of the Capitol, and have a drink of water. Olmsted's principal assistant, Thomas Wisedell, was the designer. The Summerhouse is a tribute to the bricklayer's craft--constructed of carved and radial brick, creating elaborate architectural features. Nestled in the hillside, the structure features a "grotto" with running water that, along with the central fountains, adds a cooling effect during the summer.
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
Location. 38° 53.445′ N, 77° 0.379′ W. Marker is in Capitol Hill, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker can be reached from 1st Street, NE south of Constitution Avenue, NE (U.S. 1 Alt.), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in the Capitol Square East Plaza, on the walkway off 1st Street, north of the entrance to the new, underground, Capitol Visitor Center. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20004, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. United States Capitol Grounds (a few steps from this marker); The Old Brick Capitol (within shouting From June to December, 1917 (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (approx. 0.2 miles away); Florida House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Residence of Albert Gallatin (approx. 0.2 miles away); Alva Belmont House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fiery Destruction (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Capitol Hill.
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia entry for Dr. William Thornton, first Achitect of the Capitol. (Submitted on January 11, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Surveyor of Public Buildings and second Architect of the Capitol. (Submitted on January 11, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. Charles Bulfinch, third Architect of the Capitol. (Submitted on January 11, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
4. Philip Reid and the Statue of Freedom. In 1857, Thomas Crawford (an American sculptor working in Rome) completed his plaster model for the Statue of Freedom. After his death, Clark Mills (another American (Submitted on February 6, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Philip Reid.
Categories. • African Americans • Notable Buildings • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on December 14, 2017. This page originally submitted on February 21, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,739 times since then and 39 times this year. Last updated on December 13, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on February 21, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 7. submitted on December 13, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 8, 9, 10. submitted on February 21, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 11, 12, 13. submitted on February 6, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.