In Emanuel Leutze’s mural, a group of pioneers and their train of covered wagons are pictured at the continental divide, looking towards the sunset and the Pacific Ocean. The border depicts vignettes of exploration and frontier mythology. Beneath the central composition is a panoramic view of their destination “Golden Gate,” in San Francisco Bay.
Emanuel Leutze’s mural celebrates the western expansion of the United States....



Painted portrait of Dr. William Thornton
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is the builder and steward of America’s...


Senate Office Buildings Painting and Refinishing Branch employee.
The Senate Office Buildings Painting and Refinishing Branch gives hands-on...

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Senate Chamber

Senators sitting in two story Senate Chamber.

The Senate Chamber is a rectangular, two-story room located in the center of the north wing of the U.S. Capitol. The nation's 100 senators sit at individual desks arranged on a tiered semicircular platform facing a raised rostrum. A visitor's gallery overlooks the chamber on four sides.

The Senate met in a semicircular room of the U.S. Capitol's north wing from 1819 until this new chamber was ready in 1859. First used on January 4, 1859, the Senate chamber was designed by Thomas U. Walter, the architect of the Capitol extension. The chamber was built without windows to insulate senators from outside noise. Light was originally provided through a large skylight and ventilation came courtesy of steam-powered fans.

In 1949-1950, the chamber was reconstructed, the skylight removed and the walls redesigned. Pilasters made from red Levanto marble replaced the cast-iron originals; the wooden rostrum was replaced with a larger version in marble; and the iron and glass ceiling was taken out and a new stainless steel and plaster ceiling installed. The alteration were intended to improve the chamber's acoustics and ventilation while ridding it of its mid 19th-century decor, which was then out of fashion.

Last Updated: March 23, 2015