Federal Hall | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Federal Hall

New York City, New York, United States

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Federal Hall

Federal Hall is a historic building at 26 Wall Street in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City.

History of Federal Hall

Federal Hall was the site of George Washington’s inauguration as first president of the United States, where the Bill of Right was ratified and the place where newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger was tried and acquitted of libel for exposing government corruption, thus affirming the notion of freedom of the press.

These events took place in the first incarnation of Federal Hall, which was built in 1700. Federal Hall hosted the Stamp Act Congress, which assembled in October 1765 to protest “taxation without representation.” After the American Revolution, the Continental Congress met at City Hall and, in 1787, adopted the Northwest Ordinance, establishing procedures for creating new states.

When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, New York remained the national capital. Pierre L’Enfant was commissioned to remodel the City Hall for the new federal government. The First Congress met in the now Federal Hall and wrote the Bill of Rights. George Washington was inaugurated here as the country’s first President on April 30, 1789.

When the capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, the building again housed city government until 1812, when Federal Hall was demolished and replaced with the current structure in 1842. At the time, it served as the first US Customs House before becoming home to a branch of the US sub-treasury.

Federal Hall today

Now known as the Federal Hall National Memorial, the site serves as a museum of its history and that of George Washington. Amongst its exhibits, Federal Hall displays the George Washington inaugural bible, a slab of the original inaugural balcony and a portrait gallery of the first president. There is also an exhibit dedicated to the freedom of the press.

Getting to Federal Hall

Since the block of Wall Street from Broadway to William Street is pedestrian-only, the best way to get to Federal Hall is by foot or by subway (2, 3, 4, 5 to Wall Street, J or Z trains to the Broad Street station, 1 or R trains to Rector Street, A or C trains to Fulton Street).

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