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
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.
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.
Six Ways to Explore Providence, Rhode Island in the Winter
Rhode Island make take some heat for being the smallest state in America, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in family-friendly fun. Providence, the state capital, is located one hour south of Boston and three hours north of New York City. My family has driven through the Ocean State several time on the way to visit family (check out my posts on nearby Newport, Bristol, and The Farmer’s Daughter) but we’ve never stayed in town for more than a day.
On our way home from celebrating Christmas in Boston, we decided to spend some time exploring Providence. Even though the weather was chilly (mid 20s-30s), we enjoyed lots of indoor and outdoor fun. Here are some of our favorite activities for family fun in Providence:
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.