Touted as the most beautifully built Greek Revival structure in the entire New York City, the Federal Hall has been a designated National Historic Site dating back to 1939. With an address at 16 Wall Street, the first building called Federal Hall was constructed in 1700 to hold New York?s City Hall. The structure was the setting of several historic events which happened during the unstable years prior to the American Revolution. When the Revolution was over, United States? First Congress convened at the Federal Hall and the building served as the witness to the enactment and passing of a number of significant legislations. Another important event which took place here is the inauguration of George Washington as President in 1789.
In 1789 as well, the Federal Hall was expanded following the blueprint created by Charles Pierre L?Enfant who was the person behind the master plan of Washington D.C. His design was one of the pioneering works which utilized the Federal architectural design principle in the country. When New York was designated as the U.S.?s capital in 1789, the structure officially took on the name Federal Hall.
After just a year, the country?s capital was transferred to Philadelphia. Federal Hall was then reassigned to serve as the headquarters of the city government of New York. In 1812, the city came to a decision to demolish the original Federal Hall and build a new one in its place.
The existing Federal Hall was built following the classical architectural approach and is regarded to be one of the best structures of its kind in Manhattan. The new building was conceptualized by Alexander Jackson Davis and Ithiel Town. The new Federal Hall boasts of majestic Doric columns which are meant to mimic those found at the Parthenon and the principles of Greek democracy. Federal Hall?s dome created by John Frazee is also patterned after that of Parthenon?s.
Another interesting attraction of the Federal Hall is the larger-than-life sculpture of George Washington to mark the spot where he swore as President on the building?s front steps. The commemorative statue was sculpted by John Quincy Adams Ward and features George Washington taking his hand off the bible.
Today, the National Park Service manages Federal Hall which is now serving as a museum. The exhibits found here zoom in on the momentous George Washington inauguration as well as exhibits which revolve around the topic of press freedom. Federal Hall is open from Monday to Friday.