Construction of the Northwest Court of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress
Bird's-eye view; U.S. Capitol in background.
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United States Capitol Free Sock Photos. Public Domain, Royalty Free Images. The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building or Capitol Hill, is the home of the United States Congress, and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. President George Washington in 1791 selected the area that is now the District of Columbia from land ceded by Maryland. French engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant who planned the new city of Washington located the Capitol at the elevated east end of the Mall, on the brow of what was then called Jenkins' Hill. The site was, in L'Enfant's words, "a pedestal waiting for a monument." President Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in the building's southeast corner on September 18, 1793, with Masonic ceremonies. Construction was a time-consuming process: the sandstone used for the building had to be ferried on boats from the quarries at Aquia, Virginia and workers had to be induced to leave their homes to come to the relative wilderness of Capitol Hill. Some third-floor rooms were still unfinished when the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the courts of the District of Columbia occupied the U.S. Capitol in late 1800.
The Library of Congress Building or the Jefferson Building is the oldest of the four United States Library of Congress buildings, built between 1890 and 1897 in Washington, DC. It is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street. The new building was needed because of the Copyright Law of 1870, which required all copyright applicants to send to the Library two copies of their work. This resulted in a flood of books, pamphlets, maps, music, prints, and photographs. After Congress approved construction of the building in 1886, it took eleven years to complete. The building's main architect was Paul J. Pelz, born in Prussian Silesia, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, a native of Vienna, Austria, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey during the last few years of construction. More than fifty American painters and sculptors produced commissioned works of art. The building opened to the public on November 1, 1897, met with wide approval and was immediately seen as a national monument. The building name was changed on June 13, 1980 to honor former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.