A Trip to the Texas State Capitol in Austin, TX
The Texas State Capitol in Austin was named the number one state capitol by the American Institute of Architects in 2008 and is also named as one of its top 100 buildings in the U.S. The honors are well deserved.The architecture is beautiful and the building itself is filled with history. From the gorgeous grounds surrounding the Capitol, the names and pictures of the first African Americans to serve as state legislators or Constitutional Convention delegates after slavery was abolished, to the rotunda in which the pictures of all Texas’ former governors hang, you know from the moment you walk through the Capitol’s doors that history is made within this building.
Despite the beauty of the soaring Capitol dome, the intricate mosaic depicting the seals of the six nations that have governed Texas on the gallery floor, and the clever use of the Texas star throughout the Capitol (you’ll find it emblazoned on the lights, in the ceiling, even on the door hinges), the most impressive thing about the Capitol was the fact that we were able to enter and roam about without undergoing any security checks. Incredibly, we visited the Capitol on the day a small airplane targeted and crashed into Austin’s IRS building.
When we walked through the door, we stopped and looked around for the metal detector. There was none, although a guard was walking about the place. She smiled, walked over, said hello to my son and asked if we had any questions. We stammered that we had none. After we walked away, we whispered to each other, wondering where in the world were the security. When we walked into the rotunda, we were astonished at the beauty of the gallery dome. I hesitantly took out my camera but was sure pictures weren’t allowed. When I held up my camera to the officer on duty he smiled and waved at me to go ahead. My family spent an hour and a half roaming through the Capitol. We took pictures, sat in the Texas Senate Chamber and the Texas House of Representatives Chamber. We rode the elevators, walked through the library and spoke to staff. We actually felt like the State Capitol was our building, and that we had a right to roam about and see how things were run. I realized after we left that it is our building but that feeling of ownership when it comes to our government and to public spaces is becoming extremely rare. I highly recommend visiting the State Capitol for the architecture and also just to experience the feeling of walking unencumbered by fear and security through a government space. Oh, and admission is completely free.
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