Collecting Capitals

For a while, I’ve sort of been collecting state capitals I’ve been to, and state capitol buildings I’ve seen. This collection is heavily East Coast focused, and I’ve now visited the capitals of all of the original Thirteen Colonies except New Hampshire and Virginia.

In 2011, I also, not really intentionally completed visiting the sites of all of the former capitol buildings of the United States under the First Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation, and the Federal Constitution.  (I’m unlikely to finish visiting the seats of the Second Continental Congress anytime soon, because York, Pennsylvania and Lancaster, Pennsylvania are rather far off my list of places to visit next.)

Anyway, my list of state capitals I’ve been to, in the order the states ratified the Federal Constitution, as is apparently traditional in such things:

  • Dover, Delaware — This is the biggest technicality on the list.  When two Caltech friends and I drove to Assateague Island from Washington, DC by way of Perryville, we passed through Dover, but failed to actually see the capitol building from the road or anything.
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — When I moved from Washington, DC to Boston for grad school, my family drove a rather unreasonable route, passing through Harrisburg to avoid New Jersey and New York City.  I saw the state capitol from the interstate.
  • Trenton, New Jersey — I walked around the grounds of the state capitol while changing trains in Trenton as part of a visit to New York and Philadelphia in grad school.
  • Atlanta, Georgia — When I was an epsilon, my family went to Atlanta for a wedding I wasn’t invited to, and my mom and I spent a day walking around downtown Atlanta near the Five Points MARTA stop.  It seems likely that we saw the capitol building, which is only a few blocks away, but I don’t know for sure. In any case, in summer 2016, I visited friends in Atlanta and made sure to see the state capitol.
  • Hartford, Connecticut — I also passed through Hartford, Connecticut on my move from Washington, DC to Boston and saw the state capitol there from the interstate as well.
  • Boston, Massachusetts — The dome is visible from the Charles River bike path in front of MIT.  Also, I have walked around the outside of it a bit.
  • Annapolis, Maryland — Because we had an alternate whose father was in the Maryland House of Delegates, my middle school quizbowl team got an official certificate of congratulation from the House of Delegates for winning a tournament, and my team captain and I got to stand at the speaker’s podium to have photos taken of us receiving it.  It was quite neat, even if it was also rather absurd.
  • Columbia, South Carolina — On my summer 2016 trip to the Southeast, I had to run an errand in the rural outskirts of Columbia, South Carolina, for a friend who had ended up in a car crash there. While in the area, I stopped to visit the state capitol building. There was a marker noting that Sherman had burnt it to the ground during his March to the Sea. Unfortunately, he neglected to salt the earth, and it seems to have grown back.
  • Albany, New York — On my trip to Rochester for Thanksgiving in 2010, I accidentally visited Albany and walked around the state capitol grounds.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina — During my summer 2016 trip to visit friends in the South, I stayed with high school friends who lived in Carrboro, North Carolina. After picking up a rental car in Durham to drive to Augusta, Georgia to see a friend there, I made a detour to Raleigh to visit the state capitol.
  • Providence, Rhode Island — On my trip to California in summer 2010, I took the MBTA commuter rail to Providence to fly from T. F. Green Airport, and discovered that the train station is right next to the state capitol.
  • Columbus, Ohio — I’ve walked around downtown Columbus just across the Scioto River from the state capitol when visiting the COSI science center there, though I have no particular memory of seeing the capitol.
  • Charleston, West Virginia — When driving through West Virginia to visit my dad’s parents’ hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio, we passed through Charleston and I saw the state capitol from the interstate.
  • Sacramento, California — On my trip to the West Coast in summer 2014, I spent half a day in Sacramento, California,
    primarily to ride the city’s light rail network. However, since I was there, I decided to go on a free tour of the state capitol, making it the only capitol building other than Maryland on this list that I’ve actually been inside.
  • Denver, Colorado — On my trip to the Western US in summer 2017, I spent several days in Denver. I mostly stayed in the outskirts of the city, where a friend lived, but I also made a point of riding almost the entirety of the city’s light rail and regional rail network. In the process, I explored a bit of downtown and came within a few blocks of the capitol: had I been thinking more clearly, I could have easily included it in my visit.

This makes two state capitols entered (Maryland and California), seven definitely visited up-close (New Jersey, Georgia, Massachusetts, South Carolina, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island), one probably visited up-close (Ohio), three seen from the interstate (Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and West Virginia), and two cases of passing through the capital without seeing the state capitol at all (Delaware and Colorado).  If it’s relevant, I’ve also walked by the District of Columbia city hall.

Now, for capitols of the United States under different governments:

  • First Continental Congress
    • Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — I visited Carpenter’s Hall on my trip to in summer 2011
  • Second Continental Congress
    • Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — I visited Independence Hall on my trip to Philadelphia in summer 2011, and got a tour on my trip there in fifth grade.
    • Henry Fite House, Baltimore, Maryland — I passed by its former location when riding the Baltimore Light Rail the summer before I started grad school, though I didn’t realize it at the time.
    • Court House, Lancaster, PennsylvaniaI’ve not yet been to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
    • Court House, York, PennsylvaniaI’ve not yet been to York, Pennsylvania.
  • Congress under the Articles of  Confederation
    • Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaSee above.
    • Nassau Hall, Princeton, New Jersey — This was pointed out to me as a former capitol on my summer 2011 trip to Princeton.
    • Maryland State House, Annapolis, MarylandSee my mention of it under state capitols.
    • French Arms Tavern, Trenton, New Jersey — I passed by the site on a city bus on my summer 2011 trip to Trenton, though without realizing it at the time.
    • City Hall (Federal Hall), New York City, New York — I saw the former site of this, which was replaced by a customs house, on a trip to New York in grad school.
  • Congress under the Federal Constitution
    • Federal Hall, New York City, New YorkSee above.
    • Congress Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — I saw this on my summer 2011 Philadelphia.
    • United States Capitol, Washington, DC — Being from the Washington, DC area, I’ve seen this a number of times.  The summer before I left for MIT, I even got a tour, though it was very limited and we really only saw the rotunda.
    • Old Brick Capitol, Washington, DC — This is now the site of the United States Supreme Court building, which I’ve been on a tour of.  (Before they stopped letting you go in the front door, even.)