Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday Thirteen 199: Madison State Capitol, Part 1

Can you believe this is my two hundredth Thursday Thirteen post? Obviously, I have been doing this a few years. *grin*

This week, I thought I would share one of my favorite buildings in the world, The Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. Now, I could delve into the long history of the Capitol, but we don't have all day, so I'll be kind and abbreviate. Well, I'll try to anyway. *wink*




Madison was chosen as the site for Wisconsin's Capitol in 1836, when Madison was only a city on paper. That's right, our fair city hadn't even been built yet, though 1000 acres of swamp and forest had been purchased by James Duane Doty. The city is named after our country's fourth president, James Madison. It is the only capitol in the U.S. built on an isthmus.



The current Capitol is actually the third building built on this site. The first was built in 1838 and replaced 25 years later when it was deemed too small. The second building was built between 1857-1869, but was badly damaged by fire in 1904. Construction on the current Capitol was started in 1906 and completed in 1917. The exterior is constructed of White Bethel Vermont Granite.


The statue atop the Capitol is called "Wisconsin," and is a gilded bronze created by Daniel Chester French. You are probably more familiar with this other statue of his in Washington, D.C. The Capitol measures 284.4 feet from ground to the top of "Wisconsin," and is three feet, one and a half inches shorter than the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. There are three observation decks ringing the outer dome, but visitors are only allowed as far as the first. Let's go up, shall we?



Obviously, the sign does not tell the whole story. To reach the observation deck, enter the Capitol and make your way to one of the elevators located inside the four wings. Ride it up to the fourth floor and follow signs to the stairs leading up to the fifth floor (23 marble stairs), then take the 14 metal stairs up to the sixth floor museum. Wait—you're not quite there yet. There is then a metal spiral stairway leading up to the observation deck—only 11 stairs, but did I mention that they are steep, narrow and metal? It's a bit of a climb, but well-worth the view. Don't believe me? Keep scrolling...



From the lower observation deck you have a good view of the various statues adorning the outside of the Capitol. Sorry, I do not know who created them, or who they are meant to represent, but they are magnificent.



Visitors were allowed up to the second observation deck ringing the dome's middle and the observation deck in the dome's lantern from 1915 until 1931. Tours to the top of the inner dome's observation level continued until the late 1950s. Click here if interested in seeing what it took to get to the top.



And this is what Madison looks like from 92 feet above...



Looking northwest down State Street, a one-mile thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants, leading to the University of Wisconsin. State Street is only open to bikes, buses and pedestrians. State Street ends at the University Mall, with Bascom Hill behind it. You can see the roof of Bascom Hall in the back, right hand corner. It originally housed a dome for "astronomical observatory," meant to mirror that of the Capitol's, but it was destroyed by fire in 1916 and never replaced.



This is the view looking south down Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard to the Monona Terrace and Lake Monona. This photo was taken in 2006 during Cows on the Concourse, an annual event the first weekend in June. Yup...there be cows in them there tents. (Hey, we're the Dairy State!)



Looking down East Washington Avenue towards the more industrial side of the city. You used to be able to see the towers of East High School, but they are now obscured by trees and buildings. East Wash wends its way towards Interstate 90/94, leading to Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.



The view looking north along Wisconsin Avenue to Lake Mendota. This area between the Capitol and Lake are some of the oldest neighborhoods in Madison, including the district now refered to as Mansion Hill. Lots of beautiful old homes in that area, though many have been subdivided into apartments. The buildings in the foreground are condos, with retail space at ground level.



And here's the beauty of a powerful zoom lens—a magnificent view, wouldn't you agree?


If you thought the outside of the Capitol was something to see, be sure to come back next week for a peek inside. Trust me, you will not want to miss it!







LINKS TO OTHER THURSDAY THIRTEENS:(Please leave your link if this is your first visit!)
Alice Audrey * Shelley Munro * CountryDew
Hazel * Adelle Laudan * Janet * Harriet
Tatiana Caldwell * Janice Seagraves * Suzanna Medeiros
Mary Quast * Kimberly Menozzi * Paige Tyler
Darla M Sands * Colleen





28 comments:

Shelley Munro said...

What a beautiful building. I love the view from the top. Not sure about the stairs though...

CountryDew said...

This was great. And congrats on the 200th TT! Way to go.

Adelle Laudan said...

Great pics. Those statues are amazing. Thanks for sharing.
Happy T13!

Janet said...

Love that view in the second to the last pic...beautiful!

I am Harriet said...

I never realized that Madison was such a pretty town.

Have a great day!
http://harrietandfriends.com/2011/04/tornado-winds-can-reach-300-miles-per-hour/

Alice Audrey said...

I haven't stopped to count, but I'll bet mine is up around there.

Tatiana Caldwell said...

Lovely. I've always wanted to visit Madison. I need to get up there one day soon - I'm only 3or 4 hours away!

Hazel said...

Interesting info on a historic building. Congratulations on your 200th post.

Paige Tyler said...

Great pics and interesting facts!

Congratulations on your 200th TT!

*hugs*
Paige

My TT is at http://paigetylertheauthor.blogspot.com/

Heather said...

Shelley: Aw, as much traveling as you do, I'm sure you could handle a few stairs. The view really is worth it, especially on a clear summer day.

Anita: Thank you, on both counts. I can't believe I've done 200 of these!

Adelle: Aren't they great? I tried to find out who made or commissioned them, but all I kept getting was more info on the one at top of the building, "Wisconsin."

Heather said...

Janet: The views of both lakes are stunning. It's amazing how far you can see on a clear day. I bet the view from the top two observation decks are even better, though I can understand why the public is no longer allowed up there--far too dangerous!

Harriet: One of the most frequently heard comments I hear from first time visitors is that they are surprised by how green Madison is. That isn't by accident. Madison was planned out before it was built, and that included plenty of parks and green space, more of which was added as the city grew.

Unfortunately, because we are not only an educational and political seat, but an industrial one where chemicals were dumped into the lakes for decades unchecked, we are now battling to clean and undo what was done more than a hundred years ago.

Heather said...

Alice: I didn't start out numbering mine, but as it became a weekly habit, I went back once I'd done twenty or so and started numbering them, so as to keep track. Did you guys go inside the Capitol when you were hear last year?

Tatiana: You should come up some weekend! There is a weekly Farmer's Market on the Square every Saturday now through mid-November, and usually something else going on as well--lots of fairs and festas.

We also have a free zoo, lots of parks and beaches, the Arboretum, and two botanic gardens (Olbrich Gardens on the east side and Allen Gardens on the University campus). Lots to see and do! :)

Heather said...

Hazel: Thank you. I hope you'll stop by again next week, when I share a few pics from the inside. *g*

Thanks, Paige! *g*

colleen said...

I think I'm at 300 TT's! I just interviewed a woman who came from Wisconsin.

Darla M Sands said...

What a great tour! That last shot really tipped the scales in making me want to come and visit.

Suzanna said...

I can definitely see why the Madison State Capitol building is one of your favorites - it's beautiful!

And congrats on reaching 200 Thursday 13 posts. That's dedication!

Xakara said...

Beautiful pictures and well timed. I'll be staying not far from the capitol building next month for WisCon. I can' wait to see it again!

Happy TT,

~Xakara
13 Songs

Heather said...

Colleen: Guess we'll have to wait a couple years to see if I hit 300. Gulp...I wonder if I can come up with that many more posts??

Darla: Thanks, I love how that last shot turned out. One of my favorites!

Heather said...

Suzanna: Thank you, and welcome to the Thursday Thirteen madness. It can be crazy, but a lot of fun!

Xakara: You're coming up to Madison next month? Cool! I hope you have fun at the con!

Jennifer Leeland said...

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I almost feel like I've been there.

Janice said...

That is a beautiful building.

Laura said...

Being from Madison it's fun to see your take on our capitol. And I don't those stairs are that big of a deal and I have a huge issues with heights/falling. Visiting from Thursday 13.

Ms Menozzi said...

It sounds crazy, but this is the sort of place I always wanted to visit when I was a kid. After a visit to Milwaukee, of all places, I thought I could happily live just about anywhere in Wisconsin.

I need to set a story there, I think. :)

Heather said...

Jennifer: You mean you have never visited your sister here? Really??

Janice: Thanks, I think so. Wait until you see some of the pics from the inside. *vbg*

Laura: Thanks! I don't usually have a problem with stairs, but somehow always feel these after a trip up to the observation deck. I also felt the need to mention the spiral steps especially, since I know some people who would not like them. I think it'd be kind of cool if they would open the second obs deck for a few select days each year.

Bratty said...

Excellent stuff. I may have to visit Wisconsin some day!

Heather said...

Bratty: S'okay -- I haven't been to North Dakota yet, either. Some day... ;)

Alice Audrey said...

Yep. We couldn't get on the observation deck because it was closed. I've tried to get up there half a dozen times in my life and every time it was closed. My bad luck I guess. You sure got some great shots.

Heather said...

Bummer! Sorry it was closed when you guys were here. When I went up last July I was only able to view the north side, overlooking State Street, Wisconsin Ave and East Wash. Hopefully the renovations have been completed this year.