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It’s been over ten years since we spent a day touring the many monuments and memorials in Washington DC while on a road trip to visit family in South Carolina. We went right to the Capitol Building’s ticket booth when it opened, but the day’s walk-up tickets were quickly distributed and we weren’t able to get in. Nowadays, you can reserve free tickets in advance through the Visitors Center online, through some private tour companies or through your senators or congressional representatives.
Lesson learned in reserving DC tours in advance, we took some photos of the building and surroundings before taking a hop-on and off bus to see the monuments that don’t require reservations. Someday we will go back and take the tour.
The Capitol building began construction in 1793 and was designed by a physician named Thornton utilizing a neoclassical architectural style. The cornerstone was laid by President George Washington.
The British set fire to it during the war of 1812, but heavy rains kept it from being destroyed and it was repaired. From 1850-1868, the building was expanded and a new dome installed to accommodate the growing number of legislators. In 1960, the last expansion brought the Capitol to its current size of over 175 thousand square feet.
In 1960, the Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. From its steps, you have a great view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial across the National Mall.
Location: East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC 20004
Designation: National Historic Landmark
Date designated or established: 12/19/1960
Date of my visit: November 7, 2007