Nightly News   |  December 19, 2013

Rare look inside the US Capitol dome

The U.S. Capitol dome is showing its age, and now for the first time in 50 years it is about to get a face-lift. The repair bill? An estimated $60 million. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> today in washington, a select few cameras were able to capture an extraordinary view from atop the u.s. capitol dome. whatever you think of what happens inside the capitol, this tour was designed to show the trouble at the top and and the urgent need for a fix. nbc's kelly o'donnell was there for it.

>> reporter: one of the world's most recognizable landmarks is showing its age. the dome of the u.s. capitol , made of cast iron but meant to look like masonry, is leaking.

>> you can see some of the damage they will be repairing.

>> reporter: 1300 identified cracks caused by rain and weather since ab are a hall lincoln was president.

>> our goal is to preserve as much of the original material as possible.

>> reporter: today the architect of the capitol put some of the daniel on display.

>> cast iron continues to rust and rust and make conditions worse.

>> reporter: for the first time in 50 years the dome is about to get a facelift. today we got unusual access. a rare tour to the top. amazingly i don't feel fearful of the height. we are outside the dome. to give you perspective, down there is the national christmas tree . the repair bill? an estimated $60 million of your taxpayer dollars. they are going to put up scaffolding and at night it will be lit making this a different landmark. this video shows how the dome will be wrapped in construction platforms for two years. high inside the famed rotunda --

>> i will lift this copper just enough so you can see the thin edge.

>> reporter: the iconic art seemed close enough to touch and visitors looked tiny below. public offices will continue during the pardon our dust phase. officials expect the restoration will give the dome another 50 good years. kelly o'donnell, nbc news, from atop the capitol.