Federal Hall National Memorial

Digitized collections


Scenes from Federal Hall

Slide 1

Today's Federal Hall sits on the site where George Washington was inaugurated president and the first U.S. Congress met.

Slide 2

To become the nation's capitol, the old city hall was remodeled by architect Pierre L'Enfant.

Slide 3

A section of railing from the balcony where Washington was sworn in is on view at Federal Hall today.

Slide 4

Outside, a bronze John Quincy Ward statue of Washington, erected in 1883, commemorates the event.

Slide 5

The famous trial and acquittal of colonial publisher John Peter Zenger, which helped establish the American right to free speech, also took place here.

Slide 6

Visitors to Federal Hall can see on exhibit a replica of Zenger's printing press and supplies.

Slide 7

Living history events, such as this 18th century dance in the rotunda, help to bring the past alive.

Slide 8

An information center introduces visitors to New York's role in the birth of the nation.

Federal Hall National Memorial, at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets in Lower Manhattan, memorializes momentous events in our nation's history. It was on this site in an earlier building, that the British established their colonial City Hall. After the Revolutionary War, when the nation was searching for a new capital, New York City enlisted architect Pierre L'Enfant to remodel the old city hall and offered it to the national government. It was here, at the newly christened Federal Hall, that George Washington was inaugurated President, the first United States Congress met from 1789-1790 and the Bill of Rights was ratified.

Federal Hall was demolished in 1812. The current Greek-Revival style building was built to serve as the United States Custom House for the Port of New York (1842-1862) and later, as the New York sub-Treasury (1862-1920), storing 80% of the nation's wealth until it was replaced by the Federal Reserve Bank a few blocks away. The site was designated a national memorial by Congress in 1955—a protection given to important commemorative places—and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Federal Hall collections include period illustrations and photographs depicting the history of the site, George Washington memorabilia and commemorative items from the 1889 centennial of Washington's inauguration and the 1932 bicentennial of his birth. There are also documents associated with the first Congress and the famous trial of colonial publisher John Peter Zenger.

Learn more about this site on the National Park Service and New York Harbor Parks websites.