Our Opinion: The climb to the top

Access to the upper reaches of the Capitol dome is provided through a series of steps that ascend within the confines between the interior and exterior of the dome.

A series of steep, metal, angular stairs ascends from a limited-access point on the fifth floor. Handrails and wire caging on both sides of the steps separate visitors from the dome’s interior and exterior substructure.

Along the way, a single door provides access to the Whispering Gallery, a circular balcony inside the interior dome.

The gallery features an acoustic phenomenon that permits a person to hear the faintest whisper from someone standing in the gallery directly across the dome, a distance of 65 feet.

The steep steps end at the winch used to lower the Rotunda chandelier for periodic cleaning.

Further ascent is provided by a circular staircase that leads to an exterior, circular, viewing platform.

The platform provides visitors with a 360-degree view of the Capital City.

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