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220 Years of the Capitol Building Preserved in Historic Photos

With photos that go all the way back to 1792

Take a trip back in time to when the Capitol building was just an idea on paper.

The Capitol building wasn't completed until 1800, seven years after amateur architect William Thornton submitted his architectural drawings to the design competition launched by Thomas Jefferson. Thornton's original designs were inspired by the Louvre and the Pantheon of Rome.

In 1850, the Capitol expanded, more than doubling its length, and a new dome was constructed, more than three times the height of the original. Almost 100 years later, another major expansion occurred, resulting in the removal of the Corinthian columns, which were then relocated to the National Arboretum.

Below, Curbed has compiled over 45 photos that will take you as far back as 1792.



1900 to 1949

1950 to 1999


The History Behind the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. [Curbed DC]

United States Capitol

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC 20515 202-226-8000