A dramatic transformation reshaped the Capitol in the middle of the 19th century as expansion and additions created the structure familiar to us today. New wings flanking the earlier structure tripled the size of the Capitol. A taller and highly decorated iron dome replaced the plain wooden structure that had previously topped the building.
During the Civil War, the Capitol emerged as a powerful symbol of national unity. It served as a stirring landmark for countless soldiers who marched through Washington determined to see the Union restored and to see the Capitol—particularly its grand new dome—completed.