us-capitolA symbol of the U.S. Congress and the legislative branch, the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the Nation. It is in the Capitol Building that the House of Representatives and Senate meet, debate, and discuss national legislation.

The design for the Capitol was chosen by President George Washington and awarded to William Thornton in 1793. The cornerstone of the Capitol was laid by Washington on September 18, 1793, on what was then known as Jenkins Hill. The north end of the building was the first to be completed; the Library of Congress was first located in this building but later moved into a larger building next to the Capitol. The Capitol has been enlarged and expanded a number of times over the past 200 years.

The green space of the National Mall, the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool, and the Lincoln Memorial all line up directly west of the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Capitol Building facts and figures:

  • The interior area is over 1.5 million square feet.
  • The grounds cover an area of nearly 4 acres.
  • The length of the building from north to south is 751 feet.
  • The building measures 350 feet at its widest point.
  • The height from the baseline to the top of the Statue of Freedom is 288 feet.
  • It contains 540 rooms.
  • There are 658 windows, with 108 in the dome alone.
  • There are about 850 doorways.
  • There are 8,909,200 pounds of iron in the girders, plates, columns, and ornaments in the dome.
  • The diameter of the rotunda under the center dome is 96 feet.
  • The height of the rotunda is 180 feet.
  • The height of the Statue of Freedom by Thomas Crawford, on top of the dome, is 19 feet 6 inches.
  • The pedestal of the Statue of Freedom is 18 feet 6 inches.
  • The Statue of Freedom weighs about 15,000 pounds.

To learn more about the U.S. Capitol and see a video of its construction, see the Architect of the Capitol and U.S. Capitol Visitor Center sites.