Capitol dome renovation: Historic icon set for 2-year facelift

Dec 30, 2013 1276

"To-night I have been wandering awhile in the Capitol, which is all lit up," wrote poet Walt Whitman in 1865. "The illuminated rotunda looks fine. I like to stand aside and look a long, long while, up at the dome; it comforts me somehow."

It still comforts America. But while you'd never know it to look at it, the Capitol dome is slowly, gently crumbling.

As a result, Washington's most iconic symbol is undergoing a 21st-century-style facelift. Soon, it'll look like a high-tech version of the planet Saturn, ringed by softly lighted scaffolding. Workers will be painstakingly patching hundreds of cracks, scraping off the rust and getting the lead out. The $59.5 million project aims to have the dome repaired and refreshed in time for the inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, 2017.

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