If you’ve been through Topeka recently you’ll have noticed that part of the skyline has changed. What used to be a tarnished green dome on the state capitol building is now the magnificent copper color it was meant to be.
After 13 years, more than $300 million of renovations are finally finished. For some this simply means the unsightly crane and scaffolding have been removed. However, it also means that tours to the top of the dome have resumed.
In the two weeks since tours began Feb. 6, more than 1,200 visitors have made the trek to the top.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of interest in the tours,” said tour guide Joe Brentano. “After so many years of it being closed, people are excited to get up there again.”
It’s a good thing too, because excitement might be the only thing that gets a visitor up all 296 steps. It could be fatigue that slows you down, or it could be the sight of bright yellow spiral staircase suspended over a 304-foot drop to the bottom.
“People do get a little scared,” Brentano said. “We generally tell them to focus on the stairs and try not to use their peripheral vision.”
For those who make it to the top, the view — 30 miles in each direction — is breathtaking. Visitors can even see the slope of the Kansas River Valley in which the city sits.
“The view really speaks for itself,” Brentano said.
Though many of the visitors are school kids, Brentano said there is also a lot of interest from native Topekans who haven’t been up since their own school days.
“Some of the older people remember maybe a high school trip they took and they go up to kind of relive or have that nostalgic experience,” Brentano said.
However, the younger kids tend to be more thrilled by the experience.
“The little kids seem to have no fear,” Brentano said. “They like to get up there because it’s a big adventure.”