$60 million renovation of the U.S. Capitol finally completed

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The supermoon rises over the United States Capitol dome in Washington, U.S., November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Construction Manager Shane Gallagher leads members of the media on a tour of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Construction Manager Shane Gallagher leads members of the media on a tour of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Visitors are seen at the rotunda floor of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A general view of the city of Washington is seen from the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Construction Manager Shane Gallagher leads members of the media on a tour of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Construction Manager Shane Gallagher leads members of the media on a tour of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
People are seen walking near the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A general view of the National Mall is seen from the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Trump hotel is seen from the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A worker is seen at the construction site for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump from the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Construction workers are seen outside of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A general view of the National Mall is seen from the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Construction Manager Shane Gallagher leads members of the media on a tour of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A U.S. flag is seen from the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A general view of the National Mall is seen from the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Visitors are seen at the rotunda floor of the rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
The rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, which was formally completed on Tuesday on time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump is seen during a media tour in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The rebuilt cast-iron dome of the U.S. Capitol, a soaring symbol of national unity since the 19th century, was formally completed on Tuesday after a $60 million overhaul that included repairing more than 1,300 cracks and weak spots.

The project was the first complete rehabilitation of the 288-foot-tall (88-meter-tall) Civil War-era dome since 1960. It was finished in time for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

"It is the symbol of American democracy and a beacon of hope around the world, and we delivered," Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers said at a news conference.

The 150-year-old structure tops the home of the U.S. Congress and can be seen throughout the capital. The Capitol is a major tourist site, drawing thousands of visitors daily.

When work began in January 2014, the dome was suffering from water leaks, cracks and corrosion so bad that rain gutters were clogged with rust chips, Ayers said.

Up to 13 layers of lead-based paint were removed and 666 feet (203 m) of cracks were repaired. The structure is believed to be the biggest cast-iron dome in the world, he said.

During a tour of the refinished dome's interior, construction inspector Tom Nowell clambered up steep stairways to point out improvements, such as a new lighting system, walkways, new glazing and netting for access to hard-to-reach spots.

Underscoring the detail of the revamp, he said the replacement of a single ornamental leaf required the casting and fitting of seven separate parts.

The corroded exterior balustrade was taken apart and shipped to a Utah workshop for repair, and the scrap pieces were melted down to be reused in the new structure, Nowell said.

Far below the balustrade, workmen were hammering together the stands for the inauguration while hundreds of students marched against Trump near the Capitol chanting, "Love trumps hate."

Nowell said signs of the original construction turned up during the work. Pieces of iron were stamped with the name of supervising engineer Montgomery Meigs, a crowbar from the era was found in a hollow column, and the name of Al Ports, a rigger and painter, was found written in plaster, dated 1875.

Repainting required 1,215 gallons (4,600 liters) of paint, with the top of three coats in the color "Dome White."

The dome was completed during the 1861-65 Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln viewed its construction as a symbol of national endurance.

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