Capitol Hill is a historic neighbourhood in Washington, DC, the capital city of the United States. On Capitol Hill, you’ll find the United States Capitol building, one of DC’s most distinctive buildings. Its dome is the second tallest peak in Washington DC, – the tallest is the Washington Monument. But the Capitol building is more than just a government building, it is a huge tourist attraction and art gallery too. Want to know more? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Capitol Hill in Washington DC.
7 Interesting Facts About Capitol Hill in Washington DC
1. The US Capitol building is on Capitol Hill
The United States Capitol building is located at 100 Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, DC. It was built on top of Jenkins’ Hill, which is now “Capitol Hill”, an elevated area east end of the National Mall. Capitol Hill is the largest historic residential neighbourhood in Washington, DC. Officials designated a large portion of the area as the Capitol Hill Historic District. As well as being one of the oldest residential DC neighbourhoods, Capitol Hill is also one of the most densely populated.
2. Construction started in 1793
In 1792, the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson held a competition to solicit designs for the Congress House. Amateur architect, William Thornton submitted the winning design for the building. Construction on the United States Capitol building began in 1793. The Senate (north) wing was completed in 1800 and the House of Representatives (south) wing was completed in 1811.
3. Congress meets in the Capitol
The Capitol building is the meeting place of the US Congress which consists of the Senate and House of Representatives. On 17 November 1800, the Capitol held its first session of the United States Congress with both the Senate and House of Representatives in session.
4. Freedom crowns the dome
Thomas U. Walter designed the Capitol’s iconic cast-iron dome. Constructed started in 1856 and finished in 1866. The Statue of Freedom stands on top of the Dome of the US Capitol. It is 19 feet 6 inches tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. The female figure stands on a pedestal topped with a globe inscribed with the phrase E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one).
5. There is an empty tomb in the Capitol
Located in the centre of the US Capitol building is the Rotunda, a large, domed, circular room. The Capitol Rotunda is a place for important ceremonial events, for instance, the lying in state or in honour of the dead. The space also showcases art, for instance, historical paintings and sculptures. Under the Capitol Rotunda is the Crypt. Beneath the Crypt, Congress built a tomb for the remains of George Washington, the first President of the United States. However, George Washington wished to be buried at his home at Mount Vernon so the tomb is empty.
6. Capitol Hill has lots of landmarks
Apart from the United States Capitol Building, you’ll also find other landmarks in Capitol Hill, for instance, the Senate and House office buildings. The Capitol Campus also includes the Supreme Court building, the Library of Congress, the Marine Barracks, the Washington Navy Yard and Congressional Cemetery.
7. The Capitol building houses the National Statuary Hall Collection
In the US Capitol building, you’ll also find the National Statuary Hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House. On exhibition here is the National Statuary Hall Collection. This is a collection of statues that individual states donate to honour notable persons. For example, the state of Kansas gave a statue of Dwight Eisenhower and Alabama gave a statue of Helen Keller.