Search Results for: Capitol tour

Playing “I Spy” at the Connecticut State Capitol
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Playing “I Spy” at the Connecticut State Capitol

Visiting state capitol buildings is one of the first things we do when visiting the capital city. It’s a little ironic that it took our family, who has lived in Connecticut for almost 20 years, this long, but we recently, finally made it to the CT Capitol for a tour.

Connecticut was founded in 1662 and is known as the Constitution State, as it was the first state to adopt a constitution.  Built in 1878, the Connecticut Capitol building, located in downtown Hartford, was designed by Richard M. Upjohn to replicate a Victorian Gothic style. The building overlooks Bushnell Memorial Park’s 41 acres in the heart of Hartford and was restored in the 1980s to the original colors and design. The addition of the Legislative Office Building (LOB), which opened in 1988, allowed for office space for Connecticut’s 151 Representatives (each representing approximately 25,000 constituents)  and 36 State Senators (each representing approximately 90,000-100,000 constituents). The “LOB” also allows for more public meeting spaces and opportunities for state officials to meet as committees and with public interest groups. The first and second floors of the LOB and the first floor of the Capitol are both open to the public; upper level floors house private offices and chambers and guests must be accompanied by officials. 

Playing ‘I Spy’ at the Wyoming State Capitol
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Playing ‘I Spy’ at the Wyoming State Capitol

Built in 1888, two years before Wyoming became the 44th state, the Wyoming State Capitol building sits at one end of 24th Street in Cheyenne and is the centerpiece of the Capitol Square. Wyoming is called the “Equality State” because it is home to the first female governor (Nellie Taylor Ross in 1925-1927) and the first female Justice of the Peace  (Esther Hobart Morris in 1870). The Capitol building, one of 20 state Capitols designated as a National Historic Landmark, expanded in 1890 and 1917, and went through an extensive four-year restoration process from 2015-2019. The restoration included a tunnel that connects the Capitol Building to the Herschler Building, home to many of the state agency offices.

On our massive summer 2021 road trip through Utah, Colorado, and South Dakota, we passed through Cheyenne on our way to South Dakota. We were sad that we had not made plans to stay more than just the morning (#returnvisit coming ASAP!), but we are grateful we had the chance to explore the Capitol building.

Playing “I Spy” at the Colorado State Capitol

Playing “I Spy” at the Colorado State Capitol

Visiting about a state’s history is one of our favorite activities and whenever we’re in a capital city, we make time to tour the state Capitol complex. The buildings are architecturally beautiful and the guides are usually enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and engaging. To date, we have toured capitol buildings in Massachusetts, Rhode Island (#5), New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Arkansas (#6). On our summer 2021 road trip, we spent the day in Denver (we were in town primarily to see the Rockies) and made time for a tour of the Capitol.

At one time, Denver was the second largest city in the West (behind San Francisco) and was part of the Gold Rush of the 1860s. Originally, what is now considered the state of Colorado was part of the Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and New Mexico territories. In 1861 Colorado was declared a territory and became the 38th state in America. At first, Colorado City and then Golden were declared state capitals until 1867 when Denver became the permanent state capital. Construction on the Capitol building started in 1886, was completed enough for the building to be occupied in 1893, and then fully operational in the early 1900s. The building was designed on an axis in the form of a Corinthian Cross and closely resembles the design of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

7 Stops on the Tour of the Massachusetts State House
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7 Stops on the Tour of the Massachusetts State House

Located in downtown Boston, on the south side of Beacon Hill and overlooking the Boston Common and Back Bay, the Massachusetts State House was constructed in 1798 and served as the state house until the mid 1880s. The land where the capitol was built was donated by John Hancock, the first elected governor of Massachusetts and the building remains the oldest on Beacon Hill.

Pennsylvania State Capitol
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Pennsylvania State Capitol

Touted as the “handsomest building” President Theodore Roosevelt ever saw, the five story Pennsylvania State Capitol, covers over 5 acres in downtown Harrisburg. The current 600 room building was completed in 1906, after a 1897 fire destroyed the original building. It’s “home” to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Senate, State House of Representatives, and State Supreme Court,  The campus now includes 10 additional buildings, although the main Capitol Building and East Wing will be most appealing to visitors.

New York State Capitol Building
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New York State Capitol Building

Albany, New York, located just two hours north of famed New York City, was established by the Dutch in the early 1660s. I recently did some research for family centered activities in the area, as my family drives past Albany a few times a year on our way to visit close friends in Utica, New York. On a recent trip, we stopped to explore the New York State Capitol building, at the top of the State Street hill. The “current” Albany State Capitol took over 20 years to build, post Civil War. The building has gone through many phases of of restoration, as recently as the early 2000s.

Tours of the Capitol are offered four times a day during the week and twice on Saturday. Tours are free, but reservations are highly recommended (go here), as they are usually limited to 25 people and quickly fill up. Tours are very different during the week, when everything is in session and the entire building is bustling with elected officials. If you prefer a calmer experience, the weekend tour is a safer bet, but you’ll miss the chance to possible see elected governmental officials.