Federal Hall is the embodiment of the history of the United States of America. Even though it is seemingly tiny against the background of skyscrapers, the building, decorated with a classic marble portico, is a historical relic of the center of the financial district of Manhattan Wall Street. Sadly, this historic structure is often ignored both by locals and tourists. The National Memorial is a masterpiece of public architecture, the result of construction that lasted 8 years.
The architecture of the building was designed with a mix of Greek and Romanesque styles. The facade of the hall with massive columns was created in the image of the Pantheon in Athens while the domed top is similar to the Roman Pantheon. Americans have borrowed the architectural elements from ancient times in order to develop their style of public architecture that shows the values of democracy and national pride.
Town & Davis is the company that created the design for the Memorial Hall. The building history started in 1834 when the company (the first building company at that time) won the tender to build the Custom House. That was the beginning of the story of the modern symbol of US history. These days the structure is a national memorial museum. However, the chronicle of the place itself began long before that.
The Birthplace of the Government
In 1735 the house was a place of New York City Hall where the first trial was caused. The result of that process influenced the US Constitution. The famous publisher John Peter Zenger was accused of libel because he tried to sharply criticize the British governor in his New York Weekly newspaper. Luckily, the jury acquitted him. That trial is believed to consider the foundations of a free press were laid in this process.
Moving on, in 1765, delegates from the nine British colonies met in this very building to put forward the demands to King George III. When the US became an independent country, the prestigious best federal jobs were in the Federal Hall. From 1785 to 1789, the Congress of the newly formed United States met in that place.
A few decades later, the architect Pierre Charles L’enfant created a new design for the hall so that the memorial was rebuilt. After the reconstruction, the building was named Federal Hall and it became the place of meeting of the first US Congress. Besides, the first US president George Washington was inaugurated there. Whats’ even more, the world-known Bill of Rights was created here.
Later in 1883, in front of the building was installed the statue for George Washington where he stands with his hand raised over the Bible. The original of the Bible on which he swore an oath is stored in the museum.
Continuing its story, the Federal Hall was destroyed when the capital was moved from New York to Philadelphia. The place was rebuilt almost thirty years later. After that, it served as the custom-house, then as the treasury (the cellars stored gold and silver). In 192os the hall housed the FBI, the passport office, and other government agencies.
National Memorial Today
Unfortunately, what you see today on Wall Street isn’t the original structure, however, it is located in the same place as in the past and still saves the details commemorating the events that took place at Federal Hall. Here you can find that Bible on which the first US President George Washington swore. A separate exposition tells about the trial of publisher John Peter Zenger – a trial that began with a public burning of a newspaper and ended with a jury’s decision that the press is free in America. Furthermore, in 1955 the place earned the status of Federal Hall National Memorial.
In addition to the fact that the building itself is a special attraction, there is also a museum (on weekdays) and a gift shop. If you are going to visit the museum, take note that next to it are the New York Stock Exchange and Trinity Church, very beautiful and have a long history. Also, a couple of blocks from this place is the famous Charging Bull which is also called Wall Street Bull, and a little further the newly built World Trade Center with a magnificent observation deck One World Observatory.
From the first sign, the Hall seems unremarkable, especially in comparison to the skyscrapers located near to it. But none place in the whole country served as the home for the formation of a government of America. So we all agree that the building was an extremely important part in the creation of the history of the USA and it keeps saving the signs of it till today. What’s even more, the building continues to create history these days. For example, in 2002 there was the first U.S. Congress meeting since 1790 as a symbol of support and regret to the city.