8 State Capitol Buildings With Unique Domes

The United States Capitol was built upon the idea that a government can be assembled with the consent of citizens and absent the whims of dictators. The Capitol is both aesthetically pleasing and functional, deriving elements and architectural characteristics from the ancient Greeks and Romans. Although most state capitol buildings reflect the same ideals, these 8 stand out for their somewhat unusual decorative toppers.

1. West Virginia

Detail from "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight" by Snoopywv via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Four different state capitol buildings have eagles atop their domes, but none quite like the West Virginia state capitol eagle. This particular bird perches atop a 25-foot bronze spire built on a 34-foot lantern at the top of the dome. The eagle also boasts red marble eyes. The better to see you with, my pretty.

2. Rhode Island

"Independent Man" byJ. Stephen Conn via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Atop Rhode Island’s capitol dome stands the Independent Man. Independently dressed in a bearskin loincloth and holding a spear and an anchor, the man was supposed to be modeled after the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams. When no one could agree on what he looked like, a generic-but-independent man was cast instead.

3. Maryland

(Detail) Jim Watson // Getty Images

Maryland’s capitol dome boasts an homage to Benjamin Franklin in the form of a 28-foot-tall lightning rod, constructed and grounded to Franklin’s specifications. The rod goes through the center of a 5-foot-tall acorn, symbolizing the strength and potential of an oak tree. Though the oak tree has a commanding amount of potential, the acorn was actually constructed from 31 pieces of cypress.

4. Wisconsin

Daniel Ormontvia Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

The lady named “Wisconsin” stands 15 feet high and weighs 3 tons as she moves the state “Forward” (its motto) atop the capitol dome. In one hand she holds a globe with an eagle on top and on her helmet sits the state animal, the badger. This particular badger is not clad in a red and white striped sweater like the University of Wisconsin mascot, Bucky Badger.

5. Minnesota

Minnesota’s state capitol was originally designed with St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in mind. What really sets Minnesota’s dome apart isn’t atop the dome, but at its base. Twelve marble eagles surround the base of the dome, as well as a gleaming gold sculpture known as Progress of the State, but commonly referred to as the “Quadriga.” The sculpture’s four horses represent the powers of nature: earth, wind, fire, and water. Think Captain Planet, but with more Chariots of Fire. Below the Quadriga are six large figures sculpted in marble called the Virtues, which represent bounty, courage, integrity, prudence, truth, and wisdom.

6. Oregon

M.O. Stevens via WikimediaCommons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The 23-foot tall “Oregon Pioneer” might be the best looking statue of all state capitol statues. The “Brawny Woodsman,” as he is sometimes called, boasts a beard and a healthy head of a hair, and holds an ax in one hand while a gilded tarp hangs over his other shoulder. 

7. Kansas


After 37 years of construction, the Kansas state capitol was finally completed in 1903. However, the funding for the statue for the top of the dome wasn’t approved until 1984, a design didn’t follow until 1988, and the statue wasn’t installed until 2002.

The sculpture of a Kansa warrior called “Ad Astra” stands 22 feet tall and was taken from the state’s motto, “Ad astra per aspera,” meaning "To the stars through difficulties."

8. Hawaii

David Grant via Flickr //CC BY-NC 2.0

Hawaii’s state capitol, to no one’s surprise, looks like a resort. The legislative chambers were designed to mimic volcanos, so the interior walls curve upward; the exterior columns are carved in the shape of palm trees, and the building is surrounded by a reflecting pool. So, what’s on top? Nothing—it’s a crater. In the Hawaii capitol building, the sky is the rotunda. 

The World’s 10 Most Beautiful Metro Stations
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden

Some of the most beautiful places on earth lie just below the surface. For proof, look no further than T-Centralen in Stockholm, Sweden, which has just been named the most beautiful metro station in the world by Expedia.

The travel site used Google Trends to analyze the most-mentioned metro stations in the U.S. and Europe, but Expedia ultimately chose the order of its top 10 list and threw in a couple of other hidden gems. Russia and Sweden frequently popped up in their research, so it’s no surprise that stations in those countries secured the top two spots on Expedia's list.

Dubbed “the blue platform,” T-Centralen is the main station of Stockholm’s subway system, and it’s also one of the most ornate. Royal blue flowers and plant patterns creep up cave-like walls, and another section pays tribute to the workers who helped build the Metro. It has been suggested that the color blue was chosen to help commuters feel calmer as they go about their busy days.

A section of T-Centralen

It was the first station in Sweden to feature artwork, which stemmed from a 1956 competition to decorate the city’s metro stops. Over the years, more than 20 artists have contributed their work to various stations throughout the city, some of which have tackled important social and environmental themes like women’s rights, inclusivity, and deforestation.

In second place is Moscow’s Kosomolskaya Station, which also has an interesting origin story. When the Metro started operating in 1935, it was designed to help promote Soviet propaganda. Kosomolskaya Station, named for workers of the Komsomol youth league who helped build the first Metro line, had marble walls with gilded mosaics, crystal chandeliers, sculptures of fallen leaders, and painted scenes depicting important moments in Russian history. “Unlike the dirty, utilitarian systems of many cities around the world, the Moscow metro drives through a former—but not forgotten—stage of history that sought to bring palaces to the masses,” Expedia’s report states.

Komsomolskaya Station
Komsomolskaya Station in Moscow, Russia

Most of the stations on Expedia’s list are in Europe, but three are in the U.S., including two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.

Here’s the full top 10 list:

1. T-Centralen Station (Stockholm, Sweden)
2. Kosomolskaya Station (Moscow, Russia)
3. Arts Et Métiers Station (Paris, France)
4. The Wesfriedhof Station (Munich, Germany)
5. Toledo Metro Station (Naples, Italy)
6. Staromestska Station (Prague, Czech Republic)
7. Metro Center Station (Washington, D.C, USA)
8. Mayakovskaya station (Moscow, Russia)
9. Abandoned City Hall Station (New York, USA)
10. New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (New York, USA)

India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]


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