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Texas State Capitol

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Texas State Capitol
At the time of its construction, the capitol building was billed as "The Seventh Largest Building in the World."
Texas State Capitol is located in Texas
Texas State Capitol
Texas State Capitol
LocationCongress and 11th Sts
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Coordinates30°16′29″N 97°44′26″W / 30.27472°N 97.74056°W / 30.27472; -97.74056
Area51.4 acres (20.8 ha)
ArchitectElijah E. Myers
Architectural styleItalian Renaissance Revival
NRHP reference #70000770
RTHL #14150
TSAL #641
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 22, 1970[1]
Designated NHLJune 23, 1986[2]
Designated RTHL1964
Designated TSALMay 28, 1981

The Texas State Capitol is the capitol building and seat of government of the American state of Texas. Located in downtown Austin, Texas, the structure houses the offices and chambers of the Texas Legislature and of the Governor of Texas. Designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, it was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.[2][3]

The Texas State Capitol is 302.64 feet (92.24 m) tall, making it the sixth tallest state capitol and one of several taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.[4] The capitol was ranked ninety-second in the 2007 "America's Favorite Architecture" poll commissioned by the American Institute of Architects.[5]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • The Texas Capitol: Building for the Ages
  • Texas Tech University System Day at the Texas State Capitol
  • कशी आहे अमेरिकन विधानसभा l Texas State Capitol in Marathi
  • Robert. B. Rowling Hall at University of Texas at Austin Construction Time Lapse


You're looking at a scene no one has gazed on in more than 170 years. It's a tiny frontier community on the Colorado River called Waterloo. Back in 1839 when Texas was its own country, the second president of the Republic of Texas Mirabeau Lamar suggested making Waterloo its capital. The Texas Congress approved his choice and decided to change its name to... Austin, in honor of Texas pioneer Stephen F. Austin. After Waterloo became Austin, the tiny community started to change. This is what it looked like about 75 years later. And here's Austin in the 21st Century. That's me! The State Capitol. I'm the public face of Texas. And that means I've got an important job to do. Come on in, I'll tell you all about it. First of all, the thing I like best is seeing all the young visitors. That's because the moment young people see me, they know right away they're in a VERY special place. A place that celebrates Texas history, and a place where history is still being made. A place of heroes and legends. And a place where ordinary citizens can make their voices heard. Texans always look to the future. The people built my halls to serve as the state Capitol. They also created me as a symbol of the commitment of Texas to future generations... and that means YOU! Of course, it's hard to get to where you're going if you don't know where you've been. That's why one of the first places I want you to see is the Secretary of State's office. It looks the same way it looked more than 100 years ago. Not too long after this picture was taken. Secretary of State Jane McCallum made an amazing discovery here. Hidden inside a vault, she found a remarkable document from the year 1836, probably the most important year in Texas history. It was an original signed copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence, whose immortal words define the Texas spirit and everything I stand for. Four days after that document was signed, the epic conflict at the Alamo took place. Every Texan knows about this event and it is frozen in time in this painting, "Dawn at the Alamo," which hangs in the Senate Chamber. It depicts the final day of the siege when 189 heroes, including William Travis and David Crockett, fought to the death for the dream of Texas freedom. Texas lost THAT fight, but the dream lived on. Only six weeks later, on April 21st 1836, Texans won the war for independence at the Battle of San Jacinto. Here in the House of Representatives Chamber you can see the flag the Texas army carried at the battle. I am proud to say that for more than 80 years I've kept this flag on display for all Texans to see. Led by General Sam Houston, 900 Texans needed only 18 minutes to defeat a much larger Mexican force. This victory was THE turning point in Texas History. After the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas became an independent nation. In their first national election, Texans selected Sam Houston as president of the Republic of Texas. The second president was Mirabeau Lamar. It was early in his term that he rallied support to make Austin the capital. There were other seats of government in Austin before I came on the scene. One of them even occupied the hilltop where I now stand called "Capitol Square." Completed after Texas joined the United States, it was a plain limestone building topped with a small dome. Many Texans wanted something larger and grander. The fact is, they wanted a building that looked like ME! Plans for constructing such a structure were already well underway when the Limestone Capitol caught fire in 1881. In a moment, I'll tell you HOW Texans paid for the statehouse they wanted, but first let me tell you WHAT they received when they finally built me. When my doors opened in 1888, newspapers proudly reported that I was the 7th largest building in the world. And I am still 14 feet taller than the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. But more important is this fact: I was built to be THE place where all the work of Texas government gets done. That means all three branches of government. The Legislative Branch... The Judicial Branch... And the Executive Branch, including all state agencies and departments, which were once located in this building. Half of the legislative branch meets here in my largest room, the House of Representatives Chamber, where members gather to pass the laws of our state. When the House is in session, you can sit in the gallery and watch representative democracy in action. And here's where the Senate, the other half of the legislative branch, meets. This chamber and all of my other rooms lacked furniture when I first opened. But eventually I received the highest quality pieces available at the time. In fact, our legislators still use the same desks from those early years. Now let's explore the Judicial Branch. Here's how the courtroom of the Texas Supreme Court appeared more than 100 years ago. And here's what it looks like today. To me, it sets the high standard for what a "Hall of Justice" should look like. Even though the court moved to a different building, the courtroom looks exactly like it did when I first opened. This is a room most people don't get to see. It's the original private office of the Governor of Texas, who oversees the Executive Branch of state government. Nowadays, the governor works in a different room, but a senior member of the governor's staff still uses this office. Ever since I opened, this space has served as the Governor's Public Reception Room. Governors use it for formal functions and a place to meet invited guests. Even if you do not have a chance to meet with the governor you can still visit this room and admire the antique furniture and decorations. As head of the Executive Branch, the governor oversees all state government agencies, including the State Treasury, which was once located here. For a long time, it served as the Bank of Texas. Even though the Texas State Treasury was abolished in 1996 and this room is now used by the Capitol Tour Guides, it still looks like an old bank with vaults that have elaborately painted doors. This is the biggest vault I have. The door weighs 28 tons. The walls are 28-inches thick. And to make it even more secure, it's built underground. The old Limestone Capitol that burned didn't have a big vault to compare with mine. But even if it had one the state didn't have nearly enough money in a vault-- or anywhere else-- to build a monumental statehouse like me. But we Texans are a determined and resourceful people. Even before the Limestone Capitol caught fire, some clever folks figured out how to fund construction of the best Capitol money could build. And they figured out how to do it without money. Instead, Texas traded more than 3 million acres of state land in exchange for the money to build a gigantic and magnificent Capitol. ME! With a financing plan in place, the state announced a nationwide design competition. Texas selected the drawings submitted by Michigan architect Elijah E. Myers. Groundbreaking took place February 1, 1882. Construction hit a snag when builders realized the limestone originally selected for my exterior walls had pieces of metal embedded in it that rusted and streaked after being exposed to air. I wouldn't have looked as magnificent if this material was used. Fortunately, the owners of a nearby quarry donated all the Texas Sunset Red Granite needed to complete me. On March 2, 1885, the 49th anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico, a 12,000-pound granite cornerstone was laid in place. At the height of the project in late 1886 one thousand workers labored every day. Fifteen thousand railroad cars of granite, limestone and other materials were delivered to the construction site. When it comes to my construction, people are most curious about the dome and the statue who stands on the top, the Goddess of Liberty. The main thing I want you to know is that the metal support structure created for the dome was an engineering marvel in its day. And the Goddess of Liberty? This photo was taken the last week of February 1888, right before she was hoisted to the top of the dome, making me more than 300 feet tall. At last, the grand Capitol that began with Elijah E. Myers' vision was nearing completion. The biggest celebration Austin had ever seen took place when I was officially dedicated in May 1888. Festivities lasted an entire week, culminating with a speech by Temple Houston, son of Sam Houston. That day he said, "By this structure shall Texas transmit herself to posterity." I'll never forget those words because Senator Houston was talking about me. From that day forward, visitors have wanted to know what's inside the dome. That's where we're headed right now, and this is the only way to get there. The dome is spectacular, even when you see it from a great distance. But here on the inside you see something equally impressive-- the enormous size of the metal braces that support the dome's structure and maintain its perfect shape. This is what Austin looks like from walkways around the outside of the dome. From here you can see for miles. And it's also a good place to look over the Capitol Grounds... which were set aside as a park for the people of Texas. And that long skylight down there is part of the more than 650,000 square-foot underground Extension completed in 1993. It more than doubled my original floor space, and relieved a lot of overcrowding. I may be old, but I'm still changing with the times. Now, I'd like to show you something really special that very few people get to see. It's up there, in the skylight structure in that north roof. These round windows have been part of me for all these years and I'm still enchanted by their pure blue light. Though you cannot get into the skylight structure, sometimes you can see the streaks of blue light the windows cast on the walls of my north wing. This is the Rotunda, a place rich with meaning for every Texan. From the terrazzo floor featuring the seals of the six sovereign nations that have governed Texas to the Lone Star, 218 feet overhead, this place is dedicated to the history and spirit of Texas. It's where we honor the former presidents of the Republic of Texas, and former governors and provisional governors of the state of Texas. Many were trailblazers, like W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, the first candidate for Texas governor to receive one million votes... Miriam Ferguson, the first Texas female governor... James Hogg, the first native-born Texas Governor... and Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas. All these great leaders and the many others who are honored in every room of this building have helped shape what it means to be a Texan. The fact is, our identity can be traced back to the people who built this great state. Our identity was forged during the battles of 1836, the settlement of the frontier and even the construction of the Capitol. We Texans believe in ourselves and rely on each other. We never stop dreaming. Our eyes are always fixed on building a better future. We believe there are no limits to the heights we can reach.



The first (top) and second (bottom) capitol buildings

The current Texas State Capitol is the third building to serve that purpose. The second Texas capitol was built in 1853, on the same site as the present capitol in Austin; it was destroyed in the great capitol fire of 1881, but plans had already been made to replace it with a new, much larger structure.[6]


Construction of the Italian Renaissance Revival–style capitol was funded by an article of the state constitution, adopted on February 15, 1876, which authorized the sale of public lands for the purpose. In one of the largest barter transactions of recorded history, the builders of the capitol (John V. Farwell and Charles B. Farwell), known as the Capitol Syndicate, were paid with more than three million acres (12,000 km²) of public land in the "Panhandle" region of Texas; this tract later became the largest cattle ranch in the world, the XIT Ranch. The value of the land, combined with expenses, added to a total cost of $3.7 million for the original building. It was constructed largely by convicts or migrant workers, as many as a thousand at a time.[7] The building has been renovated several times, with central air conditioning installed in 1955 and the most recent refurbishments completed in 1997.

The designers originally planned for the building to be clad entirely with hill country limestone quarried in Oatmanville (present-day Oak Hill), about 10 miles (16 km) to the southwest. However, the high iron content of the limestone led it to discolor rapidly with rust stains when exposed to the elements. Learning of the problem, the owners of Granite Mountain near Marble Falls offered to donate to the state, free of charge, the necessary amount of sunset red granite as an alternative. To transport the red granite, the Austin and Northwestern Railroad was extended 2.3 miles (3.7 km) to accommodate the transportation from Granite Mountain.[8] Due to a bend in the tracks, trains would occasionally derail, accidentally dumping some of the pink granite.[9] Many of the fallen rocks remain in place and are a local point of interest. While the building is mostly built of the Oak Hill limestone, most of this is hidden behind the walls and on the foundations. Red granite was subsequently used for many state government buildings in the Austin area.[10] The project's 900 workers included 86 granite cutters brought from Scotland.[11]

The cornerstone for the building was laid on March 2, 1885, Texas Independence Day, and the building was opened to the public on April 21, 1888, San Jacinto Day, before its completion. The building was officially dedicated by Texas State Senator Temple Houston on May 18, 1888.[11] The dedication ceremony was marked by a weeklong celebration from May 14–19, 1888, that attracted nearly 20,000 visitors and included events such as military drill demonstrations, cattle roping, baseball games, German choral singing, and fireworks. Guests were able to purchase souvenirs such as pieces of red granite and copies of a song written by composer and pianist Leonora Rives-Diaz called the "State Capitol Grand Waltz".[12]

Capitol View Corridors

Statue of the Goddess of Liberty on the capitol grounds prior to installation on top of the rotunda as construction is completed, 1888
Statue of the Goddess of Liberty on the capitol grounds prior to installation on top of the rotunda as construction is completed, 1888

In 1931, the City of Austin enacted a local ordinance limiting the height of new buildings to a maximum of 200 feet (61 m), aiming to preserve the visual preeminence of the capitol. From that time until the early 1960s, only the University of Texas Main Building Tower was built higher than the limit, but in 1962 developers announced a new 261-foot (80 m) high-rise residential building to be built adjacent to the capitol, called the Westgate Tower. Governor Price Daniel voiced his opposition to the proposed tower, and State Representative Henry Grover of Houston introducing a bill to condemn the property, which was defeated in the Texas House of Representatives by only two votes. The Westgate was eventually completed in 1966, but the controversy over the preservation of the capitol's visual presence that dogged its construction continued to grow.[13]

The Westgate was followed by even taller structures: first the Dobie Center (designed in 1968), and then a series of ever larger downtown bank towers, culminating in the 395-foot (120 m) One American Center (designed in 1982).[13] In early 1983, inspired by the Westgate and these other structures, State Senator Lloyd Doggett and State Representative Gerald Hill advanced a bill proposing a list of protected "Capitol View Corridors" along which construction would not be permitted, so as to protect the capitol's visibility from a series of points around Austin.[14] The bill was signed into law on May 3, 1983,[15] defining thirty state-protected viewing corridors and prohibiting any construction that would intersect one of them.[16] The City of Austin has adopted similar rules, so that the majority of the corridors are also protected under municipal zoning code, as well as under state law.[17]

Capitol extension and restorations

Skylights for the underground capitol extension
Skylights for the underground capitol extension

On February 6, 1983, a fire began in the apartment of William P. Hobby Jr., then the state lieutenant governor. A guest of Hobby's was killed, and four firemen and a policeman were injured by the subsequent blaze. The capitol was crowded with accumulated archives, and the fire was intense and came dangerously close to destroying the structure. It caused severe damage to the east wing and compromised much of the framing, which was largely composed of exposed cast iron posts and beams.

Following the fire, the state took advantage of the extensive rebuilding to update the mechanical and structural systems to modern standards. In November 1985, the original Goddess of Liberty statue on top of the dome was removed by helicopter. A new statue, cast of aluminum in molds made from the original zinc statue, was placed on the dome in June 1986. The original statue was restored and displayed on the Capitol grounds in a special structure built for it in 1995; it was later moved to the Bullock Texas State History Museum in 2001.[18]

The Old Texas Land Office, on the Capitol grounds, was rebuilt and updated between 1988 and 1990, after which the Capitol Visitors Center was moved there, freeing space in the Capitol. Previously, the building had housed the Texas Confederate Museum, which began in a ground floor room of the Capitol (1903–1920), before moving to the Land Office building.

Additionally, the state sought to address the intensifying shortage of space in the old building, deciding that a new office wing should be added. The logical place for an addition was the plaza immediately to the north; however, a large building there would have eliminated the historic north façade and covered what had traditionally been seen as an important public space. Instead, an expansion to the capitol was built beneath the north plaza, connecting to the existing capitol underground.

In 1993, the $75 million, four-story, underground capitol extension was completed to the north, doubling the square footage available to capitol occupants and providing much-improved functionality. Though the extension encompasses 667,000 square feet (62,000 m2) (nearly twice the floor space of the original building), there is little evidence of such a large structure at ground level, except for extensive skylights camouflaged as planter rows, and the four-story open-air inverted rotunda.[19]

In 1995, a comprehensive interior and exterior restoration of the original building was completed at a cost of approximately $98 million. In 1997, the park-like grounds surrounding the capitol received an $8 million renovation and restoration.

Design and features

Downtown Austin and the capitol as seen from Congress Avenue.
Downtown Austin and the capitol as seen from Congress Avenue.

The Texas State Capitol and grounds are located on a hilltop overlooking downtown Austin, with the main entrance facing onto the Congress Avenue Historic District to the south, for which it forms a terminating vista. The northern edge of the capitol grounds lies four blocks south of the University of Texas at Austin.


The capitol is a roughly rectangular building with a four-story central block, symmetrical three-story wings extending to the east and west, and a dome rising from the center. It is built in an Italian Renaissance Revival style and modeled on the design of the United States Capitol, but with its exterior clad with local red granite.[3] It contains 360,000 square feet (33,000 m2) of floor space (not including the Capitol Extension), more than any other state capitol building, and rests on a 2.25-acre (0.91 ha) footprint. The building has nearly four hundred rooms and more than nine hundred windows.

The interior of the central portion forms an open rotunda beneath the dome. Massive cast-iron staircases flanking the rotunda connect the various levels of the building. The two chambers of the Texas Legislature (the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives) meet in large double-height spaces in the centers of the two wings on the second floor, overlooked by public galleries on the third floor. The remainder of the building is filled with office space, courts, and archives; additional offices fill the underground extension.[3]

Public art and museums

The central rotunda is hung with portraits of all the past presidents of the Republic of Texas and governors of the State of Texas; the rotunda is also a whispering gallery. The south foyer features a large portrait of David Crockett, a painting depicting the surrender of General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, and sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin made by Elisabet Ney. The Texas Confederate Museum was held in a room on the first floor from its opening in 1903 until 1920, when it was moved into the General Land Office Building (today the Capitol Visitors Center).


The Capitol building is surrounded by 22 acres (8.9 ha) of grounds scattered with statues and monuments. William Munro Johnson, civil engineer, was hired in 1888 to improve the appearance of the grounds. By the time the first monument, commemorating the Heroes of the Alamo, was installed in 1891, the major components of Johnson's plan were in place. These included a "Great Walk" of black and white diamond-patterned pavement shaded by trees. The four oldest monuments are the Heroes of the Alamo Monument (1891), Volunteer Firemen Monument (1896), Confederate Soldiers Monument (1903) and Terry's Texas Rangers Monument (1907), and these flank the tree-lined Great Walk.[20] In the spring of 2013, ground was broken for the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument; dedication took place on March 29, 2014.

A granite monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol was the topic of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case, Van Orden v. Perry, in which the display was challenged as unconstitutional. In late June 2005, the Court ruled that the display was not unconstitutional.[21]





See also


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b "Texas State Capitol". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  3. ^ a b c John C. Ferguson (December 1985). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Texas State Capitol" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying 11 photos, exterior and interior, from 1980 and 1985 (32 KB)
  4. ^ "It's True: Texas Capitol Stands Taller Than Nation's". Orlando Sentinel. January 14, 1999. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Frangos, Alex (February 7, 2007). "Americans' Favorite Buildings". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  6. ^ "The Evolution of a Great State's Capitol". The Illustrated American. New York City. 21 (362): 108–9. January 16, 1897. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  7. ^ Cotner, Robert C. (1968). The Texas State Capitol. Austin: Pemberton Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 0-292-73703-3.
  8. ^ Clark, John. "Waters Park, TX". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  9. ^ Butler, Wayne. "Milwood History". Milwood Neighborhood Association. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  10. ^ Green, Walter Elton. "Capitol". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Texas State Capitol Building - Historical Marker Text". Texas Escapes. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  12. ^ Barnes, Michael (May 4, 2013). "State Capitol dedication the party of a lifetime". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Zoning Change Review Sheet". City of Austin. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  14. ^ "Background on the Capitol View Corridors Issue" (PDF). Preservation Austin. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  15. ^ "SB 176, 68th Regular Session". Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  16. ^ "Government Code Chapter 3151. Preservation of View of State Capitol". Texas Constitution and Statutes. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  17. ^ "APPENDIX A. - BOUNDARIES OF THE CAPITOL VIEW CORRIDORS". Municode Library. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  18. ^ Green, William Elton (June 12, 2010). "Handbook of Texas]]". Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  19. ^ "Restoration and Expansion". Texas State Preservation Board. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  20. ^ "Grounds and Monuments". Texas State Preservation Board. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  21. ^ Broadway, Bill (October 23, 2004). "A New Judgment Day For Decalogue Displays". Washington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2011.

External links

Preceded by
Tallest Building in Austin
95 m
Succeeded by
Dobie Center
This page was last edited on 4 December 2018, at 01:50
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