Composed of six structures, including the state capitol building, the North Dakota State Capitol Complex is home to the legislative and judicial branches of the government of the State of North Dakota. The complex makes these departments, together with other government agencies, easily accessible to the state?s citizens. Aside from these structures, there are also outdoor facilities that tourists can engage themselves with and statues and monuments scattered all over to honor the heroes and the people of the state.
The most prominent building and the most important of all structures in the grounds is the State Capitol building. It is the tallest building in the entire state. The current State Capitol building is the second of the statehouses that housed the highest office in the state. The first was built from 1883 to 1884, during the period when the state of North Dakota was still establishing its territory and five years before its statehood. Several enhancements were done to the building during the early 1900s, however, the entire structure burned to the ground on December 28, 1930. This adversity required for the creation of a new statehouse and to accomplish such task, specially in this period of Great Depression, 160 acres of the complex had to be sold.
Four years after, the new statehouse was opened to the public in 1934. To provide for more space, some of the original elements of the building, such as the fifty-foot statue intended for the entry plaza in front of the Memorial Hall and other ornamentations, were reduced or eliminated and with a cost of under $2 million, the new state capitol was successfully erected rising to over 241 feet high, with a total of 21 floors.
The Capitol building, branded as the ?Skyscraper on the Prairie?, houses the office of the Governor of North Dakota and other state agencies and departments, such as the Health Department and the Department of Human Resources. In the west wing base of the tower, the two chambers of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly convene when in session, while in the east wing, the North Dakota Supreme Court assembles. The 18th floor is used mainly as a viewing deck and is the highest observation level in the entire state. The building also plays an important role in observing the state?s tradition that has been practiced since the 1940?s. During the Christmas season, the building?s windows are decorated with the colors red and green and lights were turned on in a pattern that looks like a Christmas tree, while during the New Year?s Eve, lights in certain offices are turned on to spell out the new year. This structure alone is a favorite among the tourists.
The 132-acre Capitol Complex is also made up of 5 other buildings. The North Dakota Department of Transportation building that houses the central office of the department and looks like separated from the capitol tower above ground but is still connected to the tower?s Judicial Wing underground and can only be accessed by its employees. The North Dakota Heritage Center building operates as a museum which collects and displays artifacts from around the state. The Liberty Memorial Building shelters the North Dakota State Library and provides office spaces for the Special Education Unit of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. The North Dakota Governor's Residence accommodates the governor of the state. Lastly, the North Dakota State Office Building is occupied by the Water Commission, together with the divisions of the North Dakota Attorney General office, the Civil Litigation department and the Natural Resources and Indian Affairs attorneys.
What makes the complex a tourist spot are the amenities which they can enjoy. There are two parks where they can stroll around and walking trails, the Arboretum and the Prairie trails, where they can appreciate various species of trees and wild flowers. Statues and monuments adorn the grounds of the state capitol.