For the first time in 50 years the United States Capitol dome is receiving a much needed makeover--at the cost of nearly $60 million of your taxpayer dollars.
Visitors and residents of the nations capitol can now look up on any given day to find workers high above on more than 50 miles of scaffolding restoring the iconic landmark.
Predominantly made of cast iron, the U.S. Capitol dome is exposed to the elements which causes damage to the exterior. The more than 1,300 current cracks put the artwork in the rotunda at risk due to water leaks.
In addition to repairing the cracks, workers will remove layers of old paint, and repair the decorative ornaments that adorn the structure. The ongoing restoration ensures preservation for the next several decades.
The dome as we know it today was built in the 1850's and 1860's. When the House and Senate extensions were added the original dome looked small compared to the size of the Capitol-- so a larger dome was added to fit with the grandness of the building.
One interesting fact--the original dome was made primarily of wood and canvas (quite the fire hazard) and the materials were used in the steam engine to erect the modern day dome.
So what does the work mean for tourists and capitol staff? The majority of the work is done at night and on weekends to ensure minimal disruption to Congress. Tours are still underway, but visitors will notice a donut like interior canopy around the Apotheosis of Washington fresco. The canopy will remain in place throughout the construction.
The Architect of the Capitol office says the project is on time- and on budget- and should be complete by the 2017 presidential inauguration.
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