At the U.S. Capitol Building the Senate and the House of Representatives come together to discuss, debate and deliberate national policy; develop consensus; and craft the country's laws. As the nation has grown so has the Capitol Building: today it covers well over 1.5 million square feet, has over 600 rooms, and miles of corridors. It is crowned by a magnificent white dome that overlooks the city of Washington and has become a widely recognized icon of the American people and government. The Capitol's design was selected by President George Washington in 1793 and construction began shortly thereafter.
The Capitol Building is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. It has housed the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives for over two centuries. Begun in 1793, the Capitol Building has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended and restored; today, it stands as a monument not only to its builders but also to the American people and their government.
As the focal point of the government's Legislative Branch, the U.S. Capitol Building is the centerpiece of the Capitol Campus, which includes the six principal Congressional office buildings and three Library of Congress buildings constructed on Capitol Hill in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In addition to its active use by Congress, the Capitol Building is a museum of American art and history. Each year, it is visited by an estimated 3-5 million people from around the world.
A fine example of 19th-century neoclassical architecture, the U.S. Capitol combines function with aesthetics. Its designs derived from ancient Greece and Rome evoke the ideals that guided the nation's founders as they framed their new republic. As the building was expanded from its original design, harmony with the existing portions was carefully maintained.
Today, the U.S. Capitol Building covers a ground area of 175,170 square feet, or about 4 acres, and has a floor area of approximately 16-1/2 acres. Its length, from north to south, is 751 feet 4 inches; its greatest width, including approaches, is 350 feet. Its height above the base line on the east front to the top of the Statue of Freedom is 288 feet; from the basement floor to the top of the dome is an ascent of 365 steps. The building contains approximately 540 rooms and has 658 windows (108 in the dome alone) and approximately 850 doorways.