Friday, May 26, 2017

20 Things you didn’t know about our State Capitol in Sacramento.

If you’re a Sacramento resident, then you’ve certainly driven past the California State Capitol building downtown, as well as meandered through its grounds and maybe even taken a tour inside. While you certainly know that it’s home to the bicameral state legislature and the office of the governor of California, here are 20 things that you probably didn’t know about the Capitol:

1. The California State Capitol building is located at the west end of Capitol Park, an approximately 4-acre area between L Street to the north, N Street to the south, 10th Street to the west, and 15th Street to the east.

2. You may have know that, but you probably didn't realize that the Capitol sits at the exact coordinates 38.576572°N, 121.493411°W.

3. The Capitol was built to easily be the highest building in the City of Sacramento at that time. In fact, the 6-floor building is 210 feet high at the roof but reaches 247 feet high with its antenna spire.

4. With the population of California swelling with the Gold Rush, California was admitted as the 31st state in the Union in 1850, creating a need for a state capital.

5. The building was designed and constructed by architect M. Frederic Butler, who used a Neo-classical style with Classical Revival elements.

6. He planned the layout and aesthetic of the new California capitol in the likeness of the White House in Washington, D.C., including with its iconic white dome.

7. But Sacramento didn’t become the permanent seat of California's government until 1860. In between, the state capitol was moved to Monterey (1849),  Pueblo de San Jose (1849 - 1851), Vallejo (1852), then Sacramento (1852 – 1853), Vallejo again (1853), Benicia (1853-1854), and then Sacramento again from 1854 until the present day.

8. But even after Sacramento became the permanent seat of California government in 1854, there were several unsuccessful attempts by dissenting politicians to move the capitol to Oakland, San Jose, Berkeley, and Monterey (as late as 1941).

9. Construction on the new Capitol commenced on December 4, 1860, but it took nearly 14 years before it was completed.

10. Its original projected budget of $100,000 swelled to $2.5 million by the time it was done!

11. But there was a larger human cost to the titanic project as well. Ruben Clark, a major architect on the Capitol, build, was committed to a Stockton mental institution in 1864 and died only two years later.  According to psychiatrists at the mental hospital, the cause of Clark’s insanity was listed as "continued and close attention to the building of the State Capitol in Sacramento."

12. Most people know that the third floor of the Capitol is home to paintings of every California governor. But it's not widely known that each California Senator is allowed to choose one local or newer artist and display his or her work in the building for two years.

13. The Capitol includes a statue of Isabella, Queen of Spain, as well as explorer Christopher Columbus.

14. But before breaking ground, workers and craftsmen posed for a giant group photo. Each one of them signed the photograph and then placed it in a time capsule, which was buried beneath the building’s cornerstone and remains there today.

15. The Capitol building project ran into some major challenges with flooding starting in December of 1861, when unusually heavy rains broke the American River’s levee. With the Legislature in session, a serious of even worse storms continued, flooded the grounds, making the area impassable. The Assembly actually passed a resolution to hire boats to take the legislators to and from the Capitol. But soon, the rising waters proved too much, and they decided to move the session to San Francisco temporarily.

16. The Capitol had a bizarre resident; for 13 years, a feral cat nicknamed Senator Capitol Kitty lived in the building. When the cat died, a grave was made for him, and Capitol Kitty is also featured in a children's book entitled, "The Adventures of Capitol Kitty: An Almost True Story."

17. The Capitol underwent a massive rehabilitation starting in 1975, restoring the Capitol to its original 1906 architectural grandeur. The project took six years and $68 million to complete, making it the largest restoration project every completed in North America!

18. In addition to the grand staircase being meticulously reconstructed using only old photos, an original marble mosaic on the second floor was rehabilitated. Each of its 600,000 pieces was removed, polished, glued to craft paper and grouted, and then reinstalled. The beautiful mosaic shows swirling patterns of California’s state flower, the golden poppy.

19. Our Capitol and the surrounding park were designated a National Historic Place in 1973, and the next year, it was registered as a California Historical Landmark.

20. The California State Capitol Building is also known as the "People's Building," and for a good reason, with more than 750,000 visitors and tourists gracing its lawns and halls every year.


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