Located on the east end of the National Mall, the U.S. Capitol is an icon of 19th-century neoclassical architecture that houses the country's legislative branches and stands as a symbol of the United States. The building's cornerstone was laid on September 18, 1793, and it's been burnt, rebuilt, expanded, and restored since then. The original building was designed by William Thornton, a Scottish-trained physician and neophyte architect whose blueprint was selected by President George Washington.
When Congress moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in 1800, only the north wing of the building was complete. Then in 1814 the building was torched by British troops, but a serendipitous downpour spared its complete destruction. The chambers of the Senate and House, as well as those for the Supreme Court, were ready for use by 1819.
By 1850, an expansion was necessary to accommodate the growing legislature: The wings were lengthened, and the rickety wood-and-copper dome was replaced by the the current stately cast-iron dome. Today the Capitol has a floor area of about 16.5 acres. It houses the legislative chambers as well as a museum of American art and history.