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The U.S. Capitol Building

We have Thomas Jefferson to thank for the neoclassical lines of the U. S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Because of his influence and vision for an elegant structure "embellished with Athenian taste," the sandstone and marble building began to take shape under his watchful eye. Begun on a plot of land President Washington set aside for a capitol city in 1791, the Capitol Building sports 658 windows, about 540 rooms and a distinctive dome. The foundation stone for the building was set by George Washington himself.

British saboteurs and arsonists almost put an end to Jefferson's dream. In the War of 1812, the uncompleted structure was almost completely destroyed in a fire. Despite fire, war, and squabbling architects, the Capitol Building was rebuilt and completed successfully in 1830. There's more, though. Growing pains made it necessary to create more space, and the Capitol Building underwent a large and expensive expansion between 1851 and 1863.

On the next page, we'll tilt our heads at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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