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State Capitol Rankings

I've visited a few state capitol, these are their stories . . . 

1. Pennsylvania (Harrisburg): AAR Most Beautiful Capitol in the U.S. The current building was the third capitol built in Harrisburg after the previous two were respectively burned down and left unfished. When it was designed in the 1890s the state was seemingly on a mission to design a capitol that was more stately and beautiful than all the other state capitols in existence. Well, Mission Accomplished. There are 16 beautiful and quite unique murals in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chamber drawn by Violet Oakley, that depict the history of the law.  










2. Iowa (Des Moines): Prior to visiting I reviewed TripAdvisor, which back in 2012 used to be a little secret I had with the internet, but now has become a race to the lowest common denominator. A reviewer "The VMan-13" eloquently wrote, "They had me by ‘hello, you can keep your concealed firearm on you, and mask (sic) is not mandatory’. Beautiful building with interesting (sic) history and good (sic) variety of exhibits.". I decided to visit, well-masked, anyhow, but kept an eye out for a "knuckledragging (sic), unibrow, Neanderthal wearing a red, white, and blue wifebeater with flip-flops". I breathed a sigh of relief when there was no sign of him - the tour was just me and the Missus. Our guide Gale did a fine job showing us the best parts of the largest gold-gilded domed capitol building in the U.S. She mentioned that during construction in 1873-84, the two small female statues flanking the grand staircase were previously rejected by the Illinois Statehouse because they were too risqué. This made me think of a statue of a female gracing the nearby Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil War Monument erected in 1895 which features a topless woman proudly displaying her breasts (of which she should be justly proud). Supposedly they‘re a big hit with tittering schoolboys and sophomoric quadragenarians. BTW: Gale mentioned at the end of the tour that she would not be getting a Covid vaccination as she didn't want to be part of anyone's test project - well so much for that sigh of relief.

3. Texas (Austin): It's big, I mean Texas big, though it is only a very untexaslike sixth-tallest state capitol in the U.S. (though taller than the U.S. Capitol). It is 302 ft tall and therefore can almost fit the Statue of Liberty in its rotunda. There is a very large painting of the Battle of San Jacinto in the Senate chamber. According to our tour guide, the artist convinced the losing general, Santa Anna, to sit for the painting, by threatening to include him in the painting running away.   

4. Colorado (Denver): A fine capitol, though nothing special. There are some beautiful murals in the rotunda by Albert True with poetry by Thomas Hornsby Ferril (Carl Sandburg called him "The Poet of the Rockies"). One of the murals was titled "Beyond the sundown is Tomorrow's Wisdom, today is going to be a long time ago", which sounds like a rather nice motivational poster (less trite, slightly cynical, and more philosophical). Some great views of downtown Denver from the rotunda balcony (the only one that offered views from the Dome - which may have helped with its ranking). 


5. Jefferson City (Missouri) When states decided to design their capitol, it appears they took a few different approaches: design a version very similar to the U.S. Capitol - with dome, columns, and wings; design a version that looked very different than the U.S. Capitol - domeless, columnless, and wingless; or design something that‘s just a little weird. Missouri falls very squarely into the first approach, with the building looking like a mini-me version of its inspiration.

The tour was ok, though I have nothing memorable to report. The highlight most likely would have been murals in the Senate chamber by Thomas Benton Hart, Missouri’s most famous artist. Unfortunately, they were unviewable as the senate was having new carpeting installed.

The first floor contains the Missouri State Museum which contains exhibits portraying the state's natural and cultural history. Which of course includes an exhibit on Lewis and Clark. The former sailor in me found the large brass model of the battleship the U.S.S. Missouri (BB-63) interesting. It was used for antenna testing by the Navy in the 1940s.






1. The best damn state capital joke ever told (courtesy of D.H.):

"How do you pronounce the state capital of Kentucky? 'Lewis ville' or 'Louey ville?'" After the mark responds with either pronunciation, then you say rather blithely, "Funny, I always pronounce it . . . Frankfort."

Capitol View w wtrmrk.jpg
Iowa State Capitol cropped w wtrmrk.jpg
Harrisburg w wtrmrk.jpg
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