When ten hilltop acres of William Maclay's farm were sold in 1810 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the ultimate erection of the Old Capitol Building, the sale was predicated upon Maclay's earlier prescribed directive establishing exactly where the building would be located. It was to face the Susquehanna River to the west with the building's center positioned along the intersecting centerline of a new street to be opened and named "State Street." This directive thus established the linear axis of what would grow to be the original Capitol Complex. With the present Capitol Building located on the same site as the old, which was destroyed by fire in 1897, plans were set in motion in 1911 to expand the Capitol Complex all the way eastward to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks between Walnut and North Streets. Demolition of the old Eighth Ward neighborhoods behind the Capitol occurred up through the 1920's as the symmetrical plan of neoclassically-styled buildings emanating from the Capitol began to fall into place. First to be erected was the South Office Building in 1921 followed by the North Office Building in 1928. The Forum Building, built in 1931, and the Finance building, finished in 1939, both flanking the Soldiers Grove Park of red oak, completed the Complex's original expansion plan. All buildings are significant onto themselves, featuring ornate lobbies and halls, statuary, sconces and friezes. missing was a permanent treatment to the open space behind the main Capitol building which had been occupied by temporary office buildings built during the 1920's and 1930's. This final piece was fulfilled decades later when in 1986 the grand Capitol East Wing was completed in the style of a neo-classically designed legislative office internationally significant government district.
Top Left Photo
Old State Street behind the Old Capitol Building looking west in 1875.
Bottom Left Photo
Rear facade of the Present Capitol Building under construction in 1904 looking west.
Bottom Center Photo
The Original Capitol Complex begins to emerge as evidenced by the completion of the South Office Building in 1921.
Bottom Right Photo
Early postcard rendering of the proposed completion of the Original Capitol Complex produced c. 1915-20. Note differences in what was actually constructed.