California Symbols

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Stained Glass SealCalifornia's Great Seal
The Great Seal is one of many symbols that decorate the Capitol and represent the state's people and resources. Delegates at California's first constitutional convention determined its design, but not without controversy.

Minerva Safe Detail Records of their lively debate document the delegates' disputes. Their conversations show that symbols take on different meanings to different people. When presented with the proposed design, one delegate rejected it. He felt bags of gold and bales of merchandise should replace the prospector and the bear. Carved California Seal in GoldSenator Mariano Vallejo took another point of view:  He believed that a bear should appear only if shown being captured by a lasso-wielding cowboy. In the end, the delegates overcame their differences. They officially adopted the seal on October 2, 1849.

In 1907 a stained glass representation of the Great Seal was installed in the ceiling of the hallway leading from the Capitol's rotunda. To show off an exciting technological advance of the time, electricity rather than sunshine was used to light up the seal.


California Golden Poppy Mosaic
California Golden Poppy Mosaic Floors
Although the California State Capitol dates back to the 1860s, Italian mosaicists installed the marble mosaic floors located on the second floor in the north and south wings of the Capitol during a major remodel of the building in 1906. The floor consists of a grey and peach marble background with black, yellow and red marble borders. Each section is distinguished by golden poppy designs at the corners and center. The Marble pieces range from a quarter of an inch to two inches in size. Mosaicists working on the floor during the Capitol restoration in the 1970s completely disassembled the floor. After they cleaned each of the thousands of marble pieces individually, they reinstalled the floor using the exact process that artisans used to install the floor seventy years prior.

Eureka Tile Grouping

Eureka Tile Groupings
Four large tile groupings featuring Minerva seated with a California grizzly bear and the word Eureka are located in the north and south hallways of the first floor of the Capitol. “Eureka” is California’s state motto and in Greek translates to I have found it. The present tile floor coverings are reproductions of tiles that were originally purchased from the Mosaic Tile Company of Zanesville, Ohio and installed in 1896. Visitors can see an example of the original Eureka tile grouping in the Eureka Room, located in the basement of the Capitol near the cafeteria dinning room.

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