09 May 2009

The United States Of Capitol Buildings

2053.I give you a work in progress.

I adore Capitol buildings. I particularly thing that Oregon's is the most lovely, but there's something about that form, which makes the bifurcated nature of the national personality stone-real, that I find addictive. Also, in the main, the form a Capitol takes is usually quite graceful or inspiring.

Perhaps, I thought that mashing together Capitol pictures with the map of the nation would give an idea of how styles develop or match up with sense-of-place, and in a way, the following map does (clicky upon it to embiggen):



The big blank area on the right is an area I'm going to break the small states out into so the photos could be more better seen, and add some expository text.

I found out some interesting things. For instance, the Arizona state government has long since outgrown its Capitol building and has moved to symetrically-designed and placed legislative buildings making up their Capitol Mall; the Arizona Capitol remains as a museum. The North Carolina Capitol only contains the governor and lieutenant-governor's offices; the state Senate and House are in a legislative building across the street. And Viriginia's Capitol was built along the lines of a Greek temple, with wings for the two legislative houses added on at a later time.

The Alaska State Capitol is a poky building in downtown Juneau, and there are fewer than fifty individuals between the two houses. The legislative chambers, while formal, are decidedly intimate. And the New Hampshire House of Representatives has over 400 members, making the combined state legislature (which in NH and Massachusetts are called the General Court, a holdover term from when the two bodies actually adjudicated legally) one of the largest single deliberative bodies on earth, something like third or fourth in population behind the US Congress. In fact, each representative consituency in New Hampshire serves a district of only about 3,000 people. If US Congresspeople were similarly ennumerated, the US Congress would have over 99,000 members.

The big version is in a PNG format-the file has to be huge to include all the pictures (which I did my best to make sure are CC licensed (typically from the Wikipedia entry) so this online version is not as detailed as one would like. This is the verity of online storage
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7 comments:

pril said...

it appears that oregon and arizona have the same capitol building? Weirder things have happened!

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Ooops!

This, I will fix.

Good eye!

B-]

Snowbrush said...

My but a lot of them certainly look a lot alike, don't they? I guess the goal was to imitate the nation's capitol.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

You have the right of it, I think, Snowbrush. I can't remember where I read it, but the general idea was to copy the style of the US Capitol building – that building being the acme of Capitols in the US.

Most of them do resemble the US Capitol in one way or another, in the general aspect – rotunda and central section with cupola and symmetrical wings for the upper and lower houses of the Lege.

Oregon's is unique in its styling; while Oregon's has a cupola in the center it can't actually be called a dome, since it's shaped like a cylinder. Today it still looks futuristic, even though it was designed and built in the 1930s. Previous versions echoed the same US Capitol-set style.

The most intriguing to me are the real "oddballs", if you'll excuse the expression: North Dakota's and Nebraska's, which look like skyscrapers, and New Mexico's, which is shaped to have a footprint that resembles the "Zia", that glyph on the NM license plates that is a native symbol for the sun. Note that it has not even a cupola.

Snowbrush said...

"North Dakota's and Nebraska's, which look like skyscrapers,"

As does Louisiana, where you can still see the bullet holes form Huey Long's assassination.

pril said...

I just popped back in here for some reason (gimme a minute and I'll think of 6 or 10) and went off looking for something about the architectural styles of these buildings. Ionic order columns? Revival? How far removed from various Greek and Roman Classical architecture? Crap like that... and I found this fabulous site that you may or may not have already seen, with a breakdown of styles for all the new and old capitol buildings in the US...http://www.cupola.com/html/bldgstru/statecap/cap01.htm

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Pril: I've not seen that. It is quite amazing. The 1930s picture postcard of the Oregon Capitol is alone worth the visit.

Thanky!