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Comparing the White House and US Capitol: An In-Depth Analysis

Comparing the White House and US Capitol: An In-Depth Analysis

When you think of America, you may think of delicious hot dogs, diverse cultures, and magnificent architecture.

Some of the most famous destinations in the beautiful old U.S. of A are the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Alamo, the White House, and the Capitol Building.

But how many people can confidently explain the difference between the White House and the U.S Capitol Building?

This article will therefore go over the differences between these two timeless buildings, including their general layout, history, and purpose in the larger American world.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

The Most Memorable Home

The history of the White House began in the hands of George Washington, who chose the site where the House would stand.

The White House began construction in 1792 under the design of Irishman James Hoban, who drew inspiration from Irish architecture. The very first occupant was President John Adams and his dear wife, First Lady Abigail, who moved into the House in 1799 while construction was still ongoing.

Since the era of Thomas Jefferson, many notable people have moved into this illustrious House, like James Monroe, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman.

The House has undergone reconstruction multiple times. It was completely reconstructed after the British Army set it on fire in 1812.

The West Wing was constructed in 1901 after President Roosevelt felt as if the Executive Residence was becoming “overcrowded”.

In 1946, the East Wing was completed, serving as additional office space along with a reception area for social gatherings.

Finally, President Truman ordered that a stronger weight-bearing steel frame be installed in each wall, resulting in nearly all of the interior rooms being dismantled in 1948.

Today, the White House serves as the workplace of the President and their staff, as well as the official place of residence of their immediate families.

You may wonder if it’s necessary that the President and their immediate family live in the White House. While there have been cases of Presidents preferring to live in their own houses, the White House is the most secure building in the United States.

Any harm to the President could cause chaos for the government, so having the President live in the White House is the best option for keeping them safe.

It currently consists of the Executive Office and Residence, the West and East Wings, and a guest area, the Blair House.

The White House is nearly 230 years old at the time of writing this article, and despite its deep and rich history, it retains a sense of timelessness to it. The White House looks like a recently constructed building, with billions of dollars spent each year to ensure that no structural or functional faults can be identified. 

This House has borne witness to the glory of the Presidents of old and will bear witness as new history is made within it. It is ever-growing, with newer spaces being added to accommodate the increasing staff.

According to sources, there are currently 38 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators, all fully operational and available for authorized use.

In addition, the White House’s kitchen is fully equipped with both highly skilled and widely renowned chefs, the freshest ingredients available, and the latest devices. It can easily serve dinner to approximately 140 guests.

While the name “White House” was given in 1901 by President Roosevelt, the House is also called by other names in public media, such as” President’s Palace,” “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion.”

For more information about the White House, you can watch the following video:

Get to know the White House!

The Home of Democracy

“The White House is the President’s home, while the U.S. Capitol Building is the house of democracy”.

If you said this, you wouldn’t be wrong.

The Capitol, whose construction began in 1793, has been the seat of Congress since its completion in 1800. For over 300 years, our capable government officials have held meetings there which have changed and will continue to change, the fate of America. This is where the presidents were invested and where they addressed their fellow citizens after the success of the elections.

Initially, Congress was viewed as the total power behind the country’s politics. Not only was it the meeting place of government officials, but some say that it also housed the Senate Library and the Supreme Court, along with “other districts courts and offices.”

During the burning of Washington in 1812, the Capitol Building, like the White House, was completely burnt down and hence needed to be reconstructed immediately. Military engineers George Bomford and Joseph Gardner Swift were assigned to the honorable task of leading construction.

Reconstruction led to the separation of the Library, the House of Representatives (also referred to the House), and the Senate into separate buildings.

These buildings are now referred to as the “Thomas Jefferson Building”, the “Cannon House Office Building”, and the “Russell Senate Office Building”, respectively. They were powered by the Capitol Power Plant through steam and now, electricity.

The U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Capitol Building

The architect for the original Capitol Building, British-American William Thornton, felt inspired by the neoclassic design, which had significant importance in ancient Greece and Rome.

The symbolism of these two empires, both ancient Greece and ancient Rome, is important as they embodied the democratic and philosophical ideals of the Founding Fathers of America. 

While the Capitol Building has undergone multiple expansions and renovations since 1800, it has retained its original elegance and style.

Every addition made, from the changes in the gardens to the addition of its iconic metal dome, serves to enhance and supplement the vision of William Thornton.

By the way, if you’re wondering why it’s called the Capitol Building instead of the Capital Building, then you have Thomas Jefferson to thank for that.

While considering the design plans, Thomas Jefferson insisted that the building be called the “Capitol Building” rather than the “Congress House”, as the word “Capitol” is widely associated with a famous temple to the Roman king of the gods, Jupiter, on Capitoline Hill in Rome.

So what’s the difference?

Both the White House and the Capitol Building have a number of similarities. Both have a similar history, both were inspired by elements of neoclassic design, and both suffered major damage under the British Army in 1812.

But, they do have their unique characteristics, as well as quite a few differences. 

The White House contains the Oval Office, the official workplace of the President of the United States, and their close aides. It also houses the President’s family members and their staff. The White House is also inaccessible to the general public, except under special conditions. You can take an official tour of the White House, though you’d only be allowed to see a small portion of it. 

The Capitol Building has an equally important purpose. This is where the future of America is decided, where government officials meet to vote on bills and other important matters. It essentially serves as a meeting hall for the Senate and the House of Representatives.

It serves as the point of origin for the district’s street-numbering system, along with its four distinct quadrants. The Capitol Building is a “Temple to Democracy”, and the sheer magnitude and awe an individual experiences upon entering have been likened to the Palace of Versailles or the Chinese Imperial City. This means that the Capitol Building is open to the general public, unlike the White House.

Also, the Capitol Building has a magnificent dome.


The two buildings are often considered to be the same, with many foreigners not understanding the significant differences between the two.

Now that you know the purpose and a brief history of each building, you will be able to appreciate their important role in American history.

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