The Info List - Federal Hall

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Federal Hall
Federal Hall
is the name given to the first of two historic buildings located at 26 Wall Street, New York City. The original, a Greek Revival structure completed in 1703, served as New York's first City Hall. It was the site where the colonial Stamp Act Congress
Stamp Act Congress
met to draft its message to King George III claiming entitlement to the same rights as the residents of Britain and protesting "taxation without representation". After the American Revolution, it served as meeting place for the Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
held under the Articles of Confederation. In 1788, the building was remodeled and enlarged under the direction of Pierre Charles L'Enfant,[4] becoming the first example of Federal Style architecture in the United States. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first Capitol of the newly created United States
United States
in 1789 and hosted the 1st United States
United States
Congress. On its steps George Washington was sworn in as the first President. It was demolished in 1812. The current structure, completed in 1842 and one of the best surviving examples of neoclassical architecture in New York, was built as the U.S. Custom House for the Port of New York.[5] Later it served as a sub-Treasury building. Though never referred to as "Federal Hall", today it is operated by the National Park Service
National Park Service
as a national memorial and designated the Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial to commemorate the historic events that occurred at the previous structure.


1 History

1.1 First Structure

1.1.1 Federal Hall

1.2 Second structure

1.2.1 Customs House and Treasury building 1.2.2 Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial

2 Architecture 3 On U.S. postage 4 Gallery 5 References 6 External links


Federal Hall, Seat of Congress, 1790 hand-colored engraving by Amos Doolittle, depicting Washington's April 30, 1789 inauguration

First Structure[edit] The original structure on the site was built as New York's second City Hall in 1699 - 1703, on Wall Street, in what is today the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. In 1735, John Peter Zenger, an American newspaper publisher, was arrested for committing libel against the British royal governor and was imprisoned and tried there. His acquittal on the grounds that the material he had printed was true established freedom of the press as it was later defined in the Bill of Rights.[6]

Archibald Robertson’s View up Wall Street
Wall Street
with City Hall (Federal Hall) and Trinity Church, New York City, from around 1798

In October 1765, delegates from nine of the 13 colonies
13 colonies
met as the Stamp Act Congress
Stamp Act Congress
in response to the levying of the Stamp Act by the Parliament of Great Britain. Drawn together for the first time in organized opposition to British policy, the attendees drafted a message to King George III, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons, claiming entitlement to the same rights as the residents of Britain and protesting the colonies' "taxation without representation". After the American Revolution, the City Hall served as the meeting place for the Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
of the United States
United States
under the Articles of Confederation, from 1785 until 1789. Acts adopted here included the Northwest Ordinance, which set up what would later become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan
and Wisconsin, but more fundamentally prohibited slavery in these future states. In 1788, the building was remodeled and enlarged under the direction of Pierre Charles L'Enfant,[7] who was later selected by President George Washington
George Washington
to design the capital city on the Potomac River. This was the first example of Federal Style architecture in the United States. Federal Hall[edit] The building was renamed Federal Hall
Federal Hall
when it became the first Capitol of the United States
United States
under the Constitution in 1789. The 1st United States Congress met there on March 4, 1789 to establish the new federal government, and the first thing it did was to count the votes that elected George Washington
George Washington
as the first President of the United States. He was inaugurated on the balcony of the building on April 30, 1789. Many of the most important legislative actions in the United States occurred with the 1st Congress at Federal Hall. Foremost was the proposal and initial ratification of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution; twelve amendments to the Constitution were initially drafted (ten were later adopted), and on September 25, 1789, the United States
United States
Bill of Rights was proposed in Federal Hall, establishing the freedoms claimed by the Stamp Act Congress
Stamp Act Congress
on the same site 24 years earlier. Also, the Judiciary Act of 1789
Judiciary Act of 1789
was enacted in the building, which set up the United States
United States
federal court system that is still in use today.

George Washington
George Washington
in front of Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial

Second structure[edit] Customs House and Treasury building[edit] In 1790, the United States
United States
capital was moved to Philadelphia, and what had been Federal Hall
Federal Hall
once again housed the government of New York City until 1812, when the building was razed with the opening of the current New York City
New York City
Hall.[8] Part of the original railing and balcony floor where Washington was inaugurated are on display in the memorial.[9] The current structure, one of the best surviving examples of classical architecture in New York, was built as the first purpose-built U.S. Custom House for the Port of New York.[10] Designed by John Frazee, it was constructed of Tuckahoe marble
Tuckahoe marble
and took more than a decade to complete. It opened in 1842. In 1862, Customs moved to 55 Wall Street
Wall Street
and the building served as one of six United States
United States
Sub-Treasury locations. Millions of dollars of gold and silver were kept in the basement vaults until the Federal Reserve Bank replaced the Sub-Treasury system in 1920. In 1882, John Quincy Adams Ward's bronze George Washington
George Washington
statue was erected on its front steps, marking the approximate site where he was inaugurated as President in the former structure. In 1920, a bomb was detonated across the street from Federal Hall
Federal Hall
at 23 Wall Street, in what became known as the Wall Street
Wall Street
bombing. Thirty-eight people were killed and 400 injured, and 23 Wall Street was visibly damaged, but Federal Hall
Federal Hall
received no damage. A famous photograph of the event shows the destruction and effects of the bombing, but also shows the statue of Washington standing stoically in the face of chaos (see below). Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial[edit] The building was designated as Federal Hall
Federal Hall
Memorial National Historic Site on May 26, 1939, and redesignated a national memorial on August 11, 1955. Administered by the National Park Service, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
on October 15, 1966. Federal Hall was designated a landmark by the New York City
New York City
Landmarks Preservation Commission on 000000001965-12-21-0000December 21, 1965.[11]

Congress convenes for a special session at Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial on September 6, 2002

On September 6, 2002, approximately 300 members of the United States Congress traveled from Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
to New York to convene in Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial as a symbolic show of support for the city, still recovering from the September 11, 2001 attacks. Held just four blocks from the former World Trade Center's Twin Towers, the meeting was the first by Congress in New York since 1790.[8] The site closed on December 3, 2004 for extensive renovations. In 2006, Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial reopened after a $16 million renovation, mostly to its foundation, after cracks threatening the structure were greatly aggravated by the collapse of the Towers. It was reported on June 8, 2008, that New York City
New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ABC News
ABC News
invited 2008 United States
United States
presidential candidates John McCain
John McCain
and Barack Obama
Barack Obama
to a town hall forum at Federal Hall.[12] Both candidates declined the offer "because they do not want it limited to one television network."[13] The National Park Service
National Park Service
operates Federal Hall
Federal Hall
as a national memorial. As a national memorial, the site is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. It has tourist information about the New York Harbor area's federal monuments and parks, and a New York City tourism information center. The gift shop has colonial and early American items for sale. Normally its exhibit galleries are open free to the public daily, except national holidays, and guided tours of the site are offered throughout the day. Exhibits include George Washington’s Inauguration
Gallery, including the Bible
used to swear his oath of office; Freedom of the Press, the imprisonment and trial of John Peter Zenger; and New York: An American Capital, preview exhibit created by the National Archives and Records Administration. Architecture[edit]

Main hall of the memorial

Two prominent American ideals are reflected in the current building's Greek Revival
Greek Revival
architecture: The Doric columns of the facade, designed by Ithiel Town
Ithiel Town
and Alexander Jackson Davis, resemble those of the Parthenon
and serve as a tribute to the democracy of the Greeks; the domed ceiling inside, designed by John Frazee, echoes the Pantheon and is evocative of the republican ideals of the ancient Romans.[3] The current structure is often overshadowed among downtown landmarks by the New York Stock Exchange, which is located diagonally across Wall and Broad Streets, but the site is one of the most important in the history of the United States
United States
and, particularly, the foundation of the United States
United States
government and its democratic institutions. On U.S. postage[edit]

Issue of 1957

Engraved renditions of Federal Hall
Federal Hall
appear twice on U.S. postage stamps. The first stamp showing Federal Hall
Federal Hall
was issued on April 30, 1939, the 150th anniversary of President Washington's inauguration, where he is depicted on the balcony of Federal Hall
Federal Hall
taking the oath of office. The second issue was released in 1957, the 200th anniversary of Alexander Hamilton's birth. This issue depicts Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
and a full view of Federal Hall.[14][15]


View from north

The George Washington
George Washington
Inaugural Bible, on which Washington took his inaugural oath in 1789

Brass relief of Washington kneeling in prayer.

Plaque commemorating the Northwest Ordinance
Northwest Ordinance
and the establishment of the state of Ohio

The 1920 Wall Street
Wall Street
bombing, with the sub-treasury building in the background at right

References[edit] Notes

^ National Park Service
National Park Service
(2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.  ^ " Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial" (PDF). New York City
New York City
Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 21, 1965. Retrieved 25 June 2016.  ^ a b " Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial". National Park Service. Retrieved 25 June 2016.  ^ "THE STORY OF A STREET".  ^ " Federal Hall
Federal Hall
-- U.S. Custom House". FEDERAL HALL. Retrieved 2016-10-25.  ^ "The Trial of John Peter Zenger". nps.gov.  ^ "THE STORY OF A STREET".  ^ a b "CNN.com - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News". cnn.com.  ^ "Inaugural Balcony". nps.gov.  ^ " Federal Hall
Federal Hall
-- U.S. Custom House". FEDERAL HALL. Retrieved 2016-10-25.  ^ http://www.neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org/db/bb_files/FEDERAL-HALL-ORIGINAL.pdf ^ ABC News. "New York Mayor, ABC News
ABC News
Invite Obama, McCain to Historic Town Hall". ABC News.  ^ https://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080608/ap_on_el_pr/bloomberg_town_hall ^ "The Presidents". The White House.  ^ Scott's US Stamp Catalogue


The National Parks: Index 2001–2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Federal Hall.

Official NPS website: Federal Hall
Federal Hall
National Memorial Federal Hall

Federal Hall
Federal Hall
History Timeline

National Parks of NY Harbor Conservancy: Federal Hall
Federal Hall
Visitor Information Manhattan
Historic Sites Archive: Federal Hall Library of Congress - The New Capital City U. S. Custom House, 28 Wall Street, New York, New York, NY, Historic American Buildings Survey

Engraving: Federal Hall, The Seat of Congress

Lithograph: A View of the Federal Hall, 1797

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