Thursday, July 21, 2011

New York City: Federal Hall National Memorial [Birthplace of American Government]

The Federal Hall National Memorial..
26 Wall Street..

Original Structure..
[City Hall, later named Federal Hall]
The original structure at this site was built in 1700 to house the New York City Hall. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, New York remained the national capital. Pierre L'Enfant was commissioned to remodel City Hall for the new Federal Hall. The first Congress met in the new Federal Hall, and wrote the Bill of Rights. George Washington was inaugurated here as President on April 30, 1789. In 1790, the United States capital was moved to Philadelphia and what had been Federal Hall once again housed the New York City government until 1812, when the building was razed.

Existing structure at the same site..
[NY Custom Hall, now renamed Federal Hall National Memorial]
Federal Hall National Memorial, [the bldg. that now exists] was built in 1842 as the New York Customs House. It is on the site of the old Federal Hall. It later served as a sub-Treasury building and is now operated by the National Park Service as a museum commemorating the historic events that happened there.

Two prominent American ideals are reflected in the building's architecture..
  • The Doric columns of the facade, designed by Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis, resemble those of the Parthenon and serve as a tribute to Greek democracy;
  • The domed ceiling inside [image below], designed by John Frazee, echoes the Pantheon and the economic might of the Romans.

Rotunda and Main Hall..

Main Hall.. Neoclassical columns around rotunda..

Statue of George Washington in front of Federal Hall National Memorial. This marks the approximate site where George Washington was inaugurated as the First President of the United States of America, in the former structure. Crowds watched from below as Washington stood on a balcony to repeat the solemn oath of office.
Sculptor: John Quincy Adams Ward
Bronze statue / 1882..

Inscribed are the words..
On this site in the Federal Hall April 30 1789, George Washington took the oath as the First President of The United States of America..

The Solemn Oath.. April 30, 1789..
I solemly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
So help me God..

The Bill of Rights..
While the new Constitution established government by the people, many feared it did not do enough to protect individual liberty. Congress adopted the Bill of Rights in Federal Hall on Sept. 25, 1789. This permanently established the freedoms that the Stamp Act Congress had requested from the same spot 24 years earlier.

The Vault [United States Sub-Treasury]..
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln converted the building from a US Custom House into a branch of the United States Independent Treasury System. The NY Sub-Treasury issued and received bonds, gold-certificates and the first "greenbacks". This small vault and identical one on the other side of the Rotunda, were used to store large sums of money. When nbusiness boomed in the late 1870's, the Treasury Department built strong vaults in the basement to hold gold and silver coins worth hundreds and millions of dollars..

The New York Stock Exchange Building, is just across from the Federal Hall National Memorial..

Integrity protecting the Workers of Man..
The figural sculpture on the NYSE bldg. facade, completed 1903, were also made by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward. Actually, the models for the marble pediment sculptures were made by him, but the pediment was carved by Piccirilli Brothers. It is titled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man". These classical sculptures figuratively represent the sources of American prosperity, depicting Integrity in the center, Agriculture and Mining to her left, Science, Industry, and Invention to her right, and the waves on either edge as the ocean-to-ocean influence of the Exchange.