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Why Are There Nearly 5 Million Pennies in the Arizona State Capitol?

Suny Errot



Many people think that Capitol buildings are no fun and shouldn’t be part of any day trip. However, you should consider the Arizona State Capitol an exception. Not only will you get to see a historic place, but you’ll also be able to see an amazing discovery you may share with your family and friends.

If you ask us, this discovery is as good as seeing an abandoned resort in Arizona!

But first, let’s talk about the Arizona State Capitol

One look and you’ll think it’s something erected by MGM. The Arizona State Capitol located in Phoenix was the “last home” for Arizona’s Territorial government until Arizona became the 48th state of the United States in 1912. The three branches of the new state government used to occupy all four floors of the statehouse. But as the state expanded, the branches had to be relocated to adjacent buildings and other additions.

The Arizona State Capitol isn’t exactly the most technologically-advanced place. In fact, you might find it simple and ordinary. There are no fancy lightings or big screen videos. It is as authentic as it gets. They might be trying to keep the place similar to the original.

Fun fact: This building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Does it make cents that the Arizona State Capitol has nearly 5 million pennies?

Get it? No? Okay. Well, it’s time to talk about loose change. Would you believe that the building has nearly 5 million pennies? 4,800,000 to be exact. If you’re wondering where you can find that, our suggestion is to keep your eyes as open as possible and to think outside of the box.

We’re not talking about literal pennies…

Instead, we’re fixated on the copper dome of the Arizona State Capitol that comes unnoticed unless you know the famous penny fact.

The well-known courthouse architect James Riely Gordon designed the copper domed-Capitol. It was built in 1900 and has been a museum since 1981. Here, you can find many documents that focus on the culture and history of Arizona.

There is enough copper on this dome sitting atop of the historic Capitol building enough to make 4,800,000 pennies. The dome gained its shiny penny look in 1978, then it had new coppers used to replace, reseal, and polish the original dome after a massive hailstorm in 2011. The restoration was just in time for the statehood centennial celebration. It also features the “Winged Victory” statue that was once the shooting target of cowboys back in the days.

There’s a lot of loose change in this dome

Arizona State Capitol Dome
Source: Arizona State Capitol Dome | Arizona Capitol Times/Ellen O’Brien

People automatically think that state capitols have domes similar to the U.S. Capitol, where the whole U.S. Congress meets. But state capitols actually are not exact replicas of the federal building, nor it should be. Each one has a unique characteristic, making it iconic and easily distinguished by its citizens.

This building is known for its copper-clad dome. In fact, Arizonans think of the number of pennies in the dome when they first hear the words, “Arizona State Capitol.” Today, the building is home to the Arizona Capitol Museum.

Location: 1700 West Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona
Hours: The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Monday through Friday (closed during state holidays)

Now you know what you should look at when you visit this famous Arizona site!