An important part of the story in The New World takes place in the Capitol building and on it’s grounds. To add as much realism to the story as possible, I researched the Capitol; it’s history and architecture. The Architect of the Capitol website is an excellent resource if you want to investigate more on your own.
The best part of my research was traveling to Washington and taking a private tour of the Capitol, including a tour of the building’s two domes. Few people realize that the Capitol actually has two domes.
The first, smaller dome, was part of the original building. It was originally wooden, and then replaced by a sandstone structure. When you stand in the rotunda and look up at the Apotheosis of Washington, you are looking at the interior of this dome.
Seated above and around this dome is the iconic iron dome that the Capitol building is known for. It was added when the Capitol was expanded to include the wings on the north and south sides where the Senate and House of Representatives meet, respectively. It was thought that the smaller dome was too diminutive for the expanded building, so, a second dome was added. The result is a fascinating feature of the Capitol building; space between the domes.
A stairway consisting of 362 steps leads from the main level to the top of the dome. Along the way you can view the floor of the rotunda from an interior walkway about halfway up. Continuing to the top of the first dome, there is a second interior walkway just below the Apotheosis of Washington, one hundred, eighty feet above the floor. From there, stairs take you to a door that opens on a narrow walkway encircling the top of the dome.
The Tholos (the circular temple-like structure on top of the dome) is directly above this walkway with the Statue of Freedom above that. The view of Washington, D.C., from on top the dome is worth checking out if you ever have the chance.