Sunday, August 22, 2010
Utah State Capital
The current Utah state capitol building was completed in 1916 and is modeled on the Federal capital building. And like the Federal capital building sits on a hill overlooking the city. It was built using both gas and electric lighting along with another new invention- elevators. The building houses all three branches of government.
Because of the small population in the state-just over four million, the House of Representatives has 75 representatives and the senate 29 members. The chambers are small but very comfortable for their members. Our guide informed us that that these bodies meet for just 65 working days a year to handle all necessary matters. If the federal folks had the same limits perhaps we could cut down the amount wasted spending that goes on there.
The Governor was not in while we were there, so we were not able to see his office, but did get to see the reception area, which was very nice.
The Utah Supreme Court is at the part east side of the building and mostly used today for ceremonial events, since the space is rather small for the raft of lawyers usually involved in today’s cases.
In 2004 a major renovation was started when it was discovered that the foundation had weakened and the building could readily collapse during an earthquake. Since a fault line lies just up the mountain from the building, this was addressed by a new foundation that would allow the building to move as much as two feet in any direct and keep the building intact. In addition, the interior was redone to reflect the original design as much as possible. There are a number of Edison lights throughout the building.
The building is truly a joy to explore and having a guided tour added to the pleasure. Hopefully the pictures will give you a good idea of the interior. The guide noted that the building has its own space alien and pointed out the design on one of the marble pillars. I am glad he pointed it out as I am sure I would have walked by it by myself. I should note that you are allowed to tour the building on your own and visit any unlocked spaces. We did get to see a few spaces that were locked thanks to our guide.
He also noted that there was no security in the building (which I noticed right away on entering) because Utah has a concealed weapon law and anyone is allowed to enter any public building armed. So what is the point of security?
It was a good tour and I would recommend it as a must see, if in Salt Lake City.