[United States Capitol. Tortola scheme. Competition rendering of façade. Elevation with central pediment and lantern]
Architectural drawing showing Thornton's proposed design, known as the Tortola Scheme, with alternative design for flanking pavilions mounted to right.
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.