"Is this the Golden Gate?"
"I had an etching right there of the Capitol before it was finished."
"Took 85 years to complete it."
"How long did it take to complete the bridge?"
"Uh, about four years. It opened a few months after FDR's second inaugural."
House of Cards Season 2 Episode 10 (transcript)

What I confused is this sentence. "I had an etching right there of the Capitol before it was finished." What is the meaning of this sentence? And does the Capitol took 85 years to be completed?

I will be very grateful if someone explains it to me. Thank you.

  • Welcome to EL&U. To those of us not familiar with this scene, can you please provide the context of where they are and what they're looking at? Mar 2 '18 at 2:30
  • They are looking at the picture of the Golden Gate in Jackie Sharp's office.
    – Chloe Park
    Mar 2 '18 at 2:31
  • The words "finished" and "complete" parallel each other, so your suggestion makes sense, that it was the Capitol that took 85 years to complete. However, "it" could also refer to the etching - that's less likely, but if the conversation was set up to misdirect, it's possible. You'll need to look at the broader context. Note that the "it" that took 85 years could possibly refer to the Golden Gate bridge, but the 4-years comment rules it out.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 2 '18 at 2:35

"I had an etching right there of the Capitol before it was finished."

In the place indicated (presumably where the picture of the bridge now hangs) there was previously a picture, produced by etching, of the United States Capitol while it was under construction.

I can't find such an etching, but it may have looked similar to this daguerrotype: US Capitol under construction (image source)

I can't find any sense in which it's correct to say that the US Capitol took 85 years to build. From the initial planning to the completion of the current dome was about 70 years.

  • 1
    Where is the image from? Can you add a link so that you're properly citing it?
    – Laurel
    Mar 2 '18 at 3:00

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