Congress Hall - History and Facts | History Hit

Congress Hall

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Congress Hall was the seat of the USA’s Congress between 1790 and 1800.

Image Credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock

About Congress Hall

Congress Hall was originally built as Philadelphia’s County Court House, but when Philadelphia became the temporary capital of the US in 1790, it was transformed into the seat of the country’s Congress.

History of Congress Hall

Congress Hall served as Congress’ seat from 6 December 1790 to 14 May 1800: the failure of the government in Pennsylvania to protect Congress from an angry mob in 1783 led to it relocating multiple times, before returning briefly to Philadelphia, and finally relocating to Washington DC in 1800.

During this time, it was the scene of several important historical events, including the inaugurations of Presidents George Washington and John Adams and the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The Congress in Philadelphia also oversaw the establishment of the First Bank of the United States, the Federal Mint, and the United States Department of the Navy.

After Congress left, the building into disrepair. It was only in the very final year of the 19th century that efforts were undertaken to raise funds for a restoration project of Congress Hall.

Congress Hall today

Visiting Congress Hall is a great way to gain an understanding of the American forefathers and the origins of the USA. Congress Hall is now part of Independence National Historical Park, which also encompasses a myriad of significant sites such as Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Centre sprawled over 55 acres within the City of Philadelphia.

Congress Hall is accessible via guided tour only between March and December – these depart regularly so you shouldn’t need to wait for long. January and February are self-guided tours only. Congress Hall is run by the National Park Service and is free to enter. It’s also next door to Independence Hall, site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Security is relatively tight so expect to have your bags searched on arrival.

Getting to Congress Hall

Congress Hall is in Philadelphia’s Old City. The nearest train station is 8th & Market and the nearest subway is 5th St Independence Hall Station, a five 5 minute walk away. Congress Hall is also easily within walking distance from many of Philadelphia’s main sites.