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Standing 361 feet high, the Illinois State Capitol is the tallest non-skyscraper capitol in the United States, even taller than that in Washington, DC. It is the sixth capitol building of the State of Illinois. Illinois residents began to campaign for the relocation of the capitol to a location nearer the center of the state. Several locations were recommended, however, the young lawyer Abraham Lincoln and his colleagues? proposal were taken into consideration and the state?s General Assembly voted to transfer the capitol to Springfield. Soon after, the fifth capitol was built but as Illinois prospered and its population grew, the fifth capitol became crowded and the need for a more spacious government house became essential. On March 11, 1868, the ground breaking ceremony for the sixth and present capitol took place and a few months later, the first stone was set in place. Although still unfinished after eight years, the General Assembly moved into the building in 1876.

It took two decades to complete the construction of the capitol building. From the outside, the 92.5 feet in diameter dome, covered by zinc to provide a silver-like facade which does not erode, is the focal point of the structure. On top of it are electronically geared red lights that were installed to guide pilots. The facade is classical, an extremely popular style for government and public buildings in the nineteenth century with Limestone from Joliet and Lemont quarries used on the outer walls. Taking a look from the inside, the dome?s interior is decorated and lined with a plaster mural, which displays events from Illinois history, painted to look like bronze. Stained glass windows (including a stained glass replica of the state seal in the oculus (center window) of the dome) surround the dome. Standing on the "Mather Block" (the highest point of ground within the city limits of Springfield), the capitol?s floor plan was designed in the form of a modified Latin cross.

The north and south wings of the building are comprised of six floors, while the center only has four because of the immense rotunda and dome. At the center of the first floor rotunda, a sculpture of a woman with open arms stands and represents "Illinois Welcoming the World". The House of Representatives Committee Room 114 is also situated here. The Governor and the Secretary of State's offices are housed at the second floor. The House (at the south wing) and Senate (at the north wing) chambers are located on the third floor. At the fourth floor is found the Room 400 or commonly called ?The Lost Room? which was formerly the Memorial Hall where Illinois' battle flags were displayed before they were transferred to the first floor. At present, legislative staff holds office at the fifth and sixth floors on the House side and on the Senate side, Senate staff operates at the fifth floor and the sixth is made up of conference rooms and Senator?s offices.
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