Look Inside the U.S. Capitol Dome Reveals a Desperately Needed Repair Job
Look Inside the U.S. Capitol Dome Reveals a Desperately Needed Repair Job
Just as the last remnants of scaffolding covering the Washington Monument are coming down, workers are preparing to obscure another of the gems on the National Monument -- the Dome atop the U.S. Capitol building.
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Just as the last remnants of scaffolding covering the Washington Monument are coming down, workers are preparing to obscure another of the gems on the National Monument — the Dome atop the U.S. Capitol building.
The Capitol was last renovated in 1960 and is badly in need of new repairs, as weather and water damage have broken several of the ornaments along the exterior of the dome and stained many of the fixtures within the rotunda.
The restoration process, which will soon get underway, is expected to last two years — covering the exterior of the dome in scaffolding that will be lit at night and temporarily closing parts of the inner rotunda.
There are 394 steps from the ground floor of the Capitol Building to the top of the Dome. Pictured: An interior view of the Capitol Dome. At right is the sandstone wall of the original Dome, designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1824.
In 1855, Philadelphia architect Thomas U. Walter began work on the modern Dome, a 14.1 million pound cast-iron marvel that reaches 288 feet into the air. But after decades of wear-and-tear, the Dome is in serious need of renovations which are set to take at least two years.
The Dome, which was completed in 1865, leaks. Here, above, is one of dozens of drainage mechanisms set up throughout the interior of the Dome to prevent leakage into the Capitol Rotunda.
Some of the water damage is visible on these columns in the upper levels of the rotunda.
To repair the internal damage, workers will put up a "donut" canopy of netting to prevent anything from falling onto the rotunda floor during construction, while allowing visitors to see the Apotheosis of Washington fresco at the peak of the Dome.
During the early and final weeks of the restoration, workers will also construct a temporary walkway for visitors, members of Congress and staff to navigate through the rotunda. During that time, none of the statues or paintings in the area will be accessible.
The "donut," pictured, was originally constructed for an earlier renovation project in 1999, when workers removed approximately 180,000 pounds of lead-based paint from the space between the inner and outer Domes.
The mechanism from which the "donut" will hang is already in place at the top of the Dome, just below the Apotheosis of Washington. The canopy will be stable enough for workers to walk on, in order to retrieve fallen items as they work.
Several windows in the upper reaches of the Dome are cracked. They are all, however, original to the building so rather than replacing them, workers will melt and add epoxy to fill in the cracks, much as a mechanic would repair a broken car windshield.
The Architect of the Capitol's Head of Architecture, Kevin Hildebrand, demonstrates that one of the hatches — the rust-colored octagons visible from the interior of the rotunda — still opens. When the Dome was first constructed, workers would climb through the hatch to replace the light bulbs lining the interior of the rotunda. The handrail for those replacing the bulbs and outlets for those lights are still barely visible from the rotunda.
Some of the "hatches" as visible from the interior of the rotunda. Notice the paint peeling on one of the octagonal pieces on the bottom left.
Hildebrand points to a rusting bracket on the inside of the exterior wall of the Dome that has come almost completely free from the frame because of the sheer weight of the structure (remember, that's 14.1 million pounds of cast iron!). Visible are three nearly-square temporary support brackets that workers have installed to help bear the weight. Areas like this one will be prime targets for workers during the renovation.
Even the Apotheosis of Washington at the peak of the rotunda sports a crack or two.
The top of the rotunda as viewed from inside the dome. The netting above it is actually chain link fencing, designed to protect the Apotheosis of Washington below it from any falling debris. It was installed in 1960, during the last renovation effort.
Another view of the interior of the Dome. No, that isn't the Death Star.
The stairway leading up to the very peak of the Dome, where the lights signaling whether Congress is in session hang. Hildebrand says that AOC employees often jokingly compare the sign to a warning in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and her friends enter the Haunted Forest: "I'd turn back if I was you!"
Hildebrand, however, admits that he has gone up the stairs a couple of times.
The "Convene Light" at the top of the Capitol is actually four lights, which are illuminated by the Architect of the Capitol's office when either chamber of Congress is in session. The location of the light switch — which is not at the top of the Dome itself — is something of a state secret and Hildebrand would not reveal its location.
Damage to the "Tholos" — the very upper reaches of the external dome upon which the Statute of Freedom sits.
When standing at the top of the Capitol Dome, Pierre L'Enfant's vision for the city becomes clear. Here, a view of the Capitol Visitor's Center going down East Capitol Street to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.
A view of the Washington Monument from the top of the Capitol Dome.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
From the “400-pound” hacker to Alicia Machado, the candidate’s denigration of fat people has a long tradition—but may be a liability.
One of the odder moments of Monday’s presidential debate came when Donald Trump speculated that the DNC had been hacked not by Russia but by “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” He was trying to suggest the crime had been committed by someone unaffiliated with a government—but why bring up fatness?
Weight seems to be one of Trump’s preoccupations. The debate and its fallout highlighted how he publicly ridiculed the Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado as “Miss Piggy” and an “eating machine,” and how he called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” with “a fat, ugly face” (“I think everyone would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her,” he said onstage Monday). He also recently poked fun at his ally Chris Christie’s weight-loss struggles and called out a protestor as “seriously overweight.” And when he was host of The Apprentice, he insisted on keeping a “funny fat guy” on the show, according to one of its producers.
The biggest threat to the Republican nominee is not his poor performance in the debate, but his reaction to it: blaming microphones, insisting he won, and doubling down on gaffes.
Debates seldom make a great deal of difference to the outcome of the election. Mitt Romney’s dominating performance in the first debate four years ago? Didn’t stop Obama’s reelection. Gerald Ford’s “no domination of Eastern Europe” gaffe in 1976? He rose after it.
Sure, it’s better to win than to lose, but the historical record is a good reminder of why Hillary Clinton’s strong performance in Monday’s debate could have a limited effect on the election’s outcome. If it does have a lasting impact, however, it will likely be due not to what happened on stage at Hofstra University, but due to Donald Trump’s hectic, frenetic crisis-communications strategy.
This is a pattern amply seen before in the election: Trump gets caught in a tight spot, and rather de-escalate, he tends to take out the bellows and fan the flames as much as he can. Time and again, he has managed to overtake a news cycle (and often overshadow bad news about Clinton) thanks to bad crisis management. It’s what he did in his tiff with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, and so far it’s his post-debate strategy, too.
In a unique, home-spun experiment, researchers found that centripetal force could help people pass kidney stones—before they become a serious health-care cost.
East Lansing, Michigan, becomes a ghost town during spring break. Families head south, often to the theme parks in Orlando. A week later, the Midwesterners return sunburned and bereft of disposable income, and, urological surgeon David Wartinger noticed, some also come home with fewer kidney stones.
Wartinger is a professor emeritus at Michigan State, where he has dealt for decades with the scourge of kidney stones, which affect around one in 10 people at some point in life. Most are small, and they pass through us without issue. But many linger in our kidneys and grow, sending hundreds of thousands of people to emergency rooms and costing around $3.8 billion every year in treatment and extraction. The pain of passing a larger stone is often compared to child birth.
For decades, the candidate has willfully inflicted pain and humiliation.
Donald J. Trump has a cruel streak. He willfully causes pain and distress to others. And he repeats this public behavior so frequently that it’s fair to call it a character trait. Any single example would be off-putting but forgivable. Being shown many examples across many years should make any decent person recoil in disgust.
Judge for yourself if these examples qualify.
* * *
In national politics, harsh attacks are to be expected. I certainly don’t fault Trump for calling Hillary Clinton dishonest, or wrongheaded, or possessed of bad judgment, even if it’s a jarring departure from the glowing compliments that he used to pay her.
But even in a realm where the harshest critiques are part of the civic process, Trump crossed a line this week when he declared his intention to invite Gennifer Flowers to today’s presidential debate. What kind of man invites a husband’s former mistress to an event to taunt his wife? Trump managed to launch an attack that couldn’t be less relevant to his opponent’s qualifications or more personally cruel. His campaign and his running-mate later said that it was all a big joke. No matter. Whether in earnest or in jest, Trump showed his tendency to humiliate others.
According to Arthur, just a few months later, all 60 members of a committee selected by the American Dialect Society voted to google 2002’s most useful new word. Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary would soon note the coinage. By 2006, Google’s lawyers—fearful of seeing the company’s name brand watered down to the trademark mushiness of kleenex—wrote a post for the company blog outlining when and when not to google should be used.
The films touted for consideration this year include prestige projects like Martin Scorsese’s Silence and festival hits like Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight.
With the main film festivals of the fall (Telluride, Venice, and Toronto) now concluded, and Martin Scorsese finally confirming that his much-anticipated drama Silence will come out at the end of the year, the next three months will bring a calendar loaded with prestige releases. Among them are films that better reflect the wide range of faces and voices in America (and around the world), which have recently been severely under-represented on Oscar night. Audiences and critics will be paying especially close attention to the works and actors the Academy chooses to recognize, after the awards were condemned this year for nominating only white performers two years in a row.
The question, as always, is which films will be able to stand out once studios begin their awards campaigns in earnest. A lot can happen in a few months; after all, the season has already seen its earliest anointed front-runner practically disappear from the race. The former Best Picture favorite was the big story out of Sundance: The Birth of a Nation(October 7), a searing depiction of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia written and directed by Nate Parker. The film won the festival’s Grand Jury Prize just as the conversation over the largely white Oscar nominations was at its loudest. The movie was acquired by Fox Searchlight for a record $17.5 million, with the studio promising a huge publicity campaign in the fall to help push it for awards contention.
In North Carolina, the Democratic candidate basked in her debate victory. As for her supporters, they’re feeling better, but they’re not ready to exhale.
RALEIGH, N.C.— "Did anybody see that debate last night? Ooooh yes," Hillary Clinton said, her first words after striding confidently out on stage at Wake Technical Community College Tuesday afternoon.
As a capacity crowd cheered, she added, "One down, two to go."
Celebration and relief added to the thick humidity of late summerat Clinton’s event inNorth Carolina. Post-debate analysis is in that awkward in-between state, after the pundits have rendered their verdicts and before high-quality polling has measured the nation’s response. But the Democratic nominee seemed sure that she was the victor.
It was Clinton’s first event after the first presidential debate Monday evening in Hempstead, New York. One sign of her confidence coming out of that encounter: As I approached the rally, a man asked for a hand loading a heavy box into his car. He was the teleprompter man, he said, but when he arrived in Raleigh, he’d been told that Clinton had decided to do without the prompter. He was turning around and heading back to Washington, D.C.
A new study looks at rates of lethal violence across a thousand species to better understand the evolutionary origins of humanity’s own inhumanity.
Which mammal is most likely to be murdered by its own kind? It’s certainly not humans—not even close. Nor is it a top predator like the grey wolf or lion, although those at least are #11 and #9 in the league table of murdery mammals. No, according to a study led by José María Gómez from the University of Granada, the top spot goes to… the meerkat. These endearing black-masked creatures might be famous for their cooperative ways, but they kill each other at a rate that makes man’s inhumanity to man look meek. Almost one in five meerkats, mostly youngsters, lose their lives at the paws and jaws of their peers.
Gómez’s study is the first thorough survey of violence in the mammal world, collating data on more than a thousand species. It clearly shows that we humans are not alone in our capacity to kill each other. Our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, have been known to wage brutal war, but even apparently peaceful creatures take each other’s lives. When ranked according to their rates of lethal violence, ground squirrels, wild horses, gazelle, and deer all feature in the top 50. So do long-tailed chinchillas, which kill each other more frequently than tigers and bears do.
Retired Senator John Warner of Virginia, an influential voice on military issues, has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
It might have been a bigger surprise if John Warner had backed Donald Trump than if he hadn’t.
The former longtime Republican U.S. senator from Virginia, and former secretary of the Navy, endorsed Hillary Clinton on Wednesday at a rally in Alexandria.
“There comes a time when I have to stand up and assert my own views,” Warner said, standing alongside Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator who is Clinton’s running mate. “If there’s one thing about candidate Clinton that you’ve got to understand, she throughout her whole life has been prepared, done her homework and studied.” He also called Trump’s assessment of the U.S. military, as badly weak, was “ridiculous.”
Warner has never hesitated to buck the Republican Party line. He did it in the Senate, and he did it to back Democrat Mark Warner (no relation), rather than Republican Jim Gilmore, in his 2014 reelection effort. But John Warner’s backing could help Clinton solidify her lead in Virginia, which was until recently a swing state but has turned gradually more blue.