Federal Hall

Infobox Protected area
name = Federal Hall National Memorial
iucn_category = V



caption =
location = New York, NY
nearest_city =
lat_degrees = 40
lat_minutes = 42
lat_seconds = 26
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 74
long_minutes = 0
long_seconds = 37
long_direction = W
area = convert|0.45|acre|ha
established = May 26, 1939
visitation_num = 156,707
visitation_year = 2004
governing_body = National Park Service

Federal Hall, located at 26 Wall Street in New York City, was the first capitol of the United States of America and the site of George Washington's first inauguration in 1789. It is also the place where the United States Bill of Rights was passed. The original building was demolished in the nineteenth century and replaced by the current structure, which served as the first United States Customs House. Today, the Federal Hall National Memorial, as it is now known, is operated by the National Park Service as a museum commemorating the historic events that happened there.

Historic building

The original structure on the site was built as New York's City Hall in 1700. In 1735, John Peter Zenger, an American newspaper publisher, was arrested for committing libel against the British royal governor and was imprisoned and tried there. His acquittal on the grounds that the material he had printed was true established the freedom of the press as it was later defined in the Bill of Rights.

In October 1765, delegates from nine of the 13 colonies met as the Stamp Act Congress in response to the levying of the Stamp Act by the Parliament of Great Britain. Drawn together for the first time in organized opposition to British policy, the attendees drafted a message to King George III, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons, claiming entitlement to the same rights as the residents of Britain and protesting the colonies' "taxation without representation."

After the American Revolution, the City Hall served as the meeting place for the Congress of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, from 1785 until 1789. Among the acts adopted here in this period was the Northwest Ordinance, which set up what would later become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, but more fundamentally prohibited slavery in these future states.

In 1788 the building was remodelled and enlarged under the direction of Pierre Charles L'Enfant [http://books.google.com/books?id=m8x8UHFhmWEC&pg=PA163] , who was later selected by President Washington to design the capital city on the Potomac. This was the first example of Federal Style architecture in the United States. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first Capitol of the United States under the Constitution in 1789. The 1st United States Congress met there on March 4, 1789, to establish the new federal government, and the first thing they did was count the votes that elected George Washington as the first President of the United States. He was inaugurated in front of the building on April 30, 1789.

Many of the most important legislative actions in the United States occurred with the 1st Congress at Federal Hall. First among these were adoption of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution; not long after the new federal Constitution was ratified, many Americans began to express their concern for its limited protection of individual liberties. Twelve amendments to the Constitution were initially drafted, ten were agreed upon, and on September 25, 1789, the Bill of Rights was adopted in Federal Hall, establishing the freedoms claimed by the Stamp Act Congress on the same site 24 years earlier. Also, the Judiciary Act of 1789 was enacted in the building which set up the United States Court System, which is still in use today.

In 1812 the old New York City Hall, known as Federal Hall, was torn down for $400 worth of scrap. Part of the original railing and balcony floor where Washington was inaugurated are on display in the monument.

Current structure

In 1790, the United States capital was moved to Philadelphia and what had been Federal Hall once again housed New York City government until 1812, when the building was razed. The current structure, one of the best surviving examples of classical architecture in New York, was built as the country's first Customs House, opening in 1842, and later served as one of six United States Sub-Treasury locations and a Federal Reserve Bank.

Two prominent American ideals are reflected in the building's architecture: The Doric columns of the façade, 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, designed by John Frazee, echoes the Pantheon and the economic might of the Romans.

The current structure is often overshadowed among downtown landmarks by the New York Stock Exchange, which is located diagonally across Wall and Nassau Streets, but the site is one of the most important in the history of the United States and, particularly, the foundation of the United States Government and its democratic institutions. The current building is well-known for the bronze statue of George Washington on its front steps, marking the site where he was inaugurated as US President in the former structure.

In 1920, a bomb was detonated across the street from Federal Hall at 23 Wall Street, in what became known as the Wall Street bombing. 38 people were killed and 400 injured, and 23 Wall was visibly damaged, but Federal Hall received no damage. A of the event shows the destruction and effects of the bombing, but also shows the statue of Washington standing stoically in the face of chaos.

Federal Hall National Memorial

The building was designated as Federal Hall Memorial National Historic Site on May 26, 1939, and redesignated a national memorial on August 11, 1955. As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

The National Park Services operates Federal Hall as a museum. The museum closed on December 3, 2004 for extensive renovations and reopened in the fall of 2006. Normally its exhibit galleries are open free to the public daily, except national holidays, and guided tours of the site are offered throughout the day. Exhibits include:
*"George Washington’s Inauguration Gallery" - Including the Bible used to swear his oath of office.
*"Freedom of the Press" - The imprisonment and trial of John Peter Zenger.
*"Journey to Federal Hall" - An 8-minute video about the history of Federal Hall.

On September 6, 2002, approximately 300 members of the United States Congress traveled from Washington, D.C. to New York to convene in Federal Hall as a symbolic show of support for the City, still recovering from the September 11, 2001 attacks. Just four blocks from Ground Zero, the meeting was the first by Congress in New York since 1790.

In 2006, Federal Hall opened after a brief closure and a $16 million renovation, mostly to its foundation, after cracks threatening the structure were greatly aggravated by the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers.

As a national monument, the site is open free to the public from 9-5 on week days. It has tourist information about the New York Harbor Area's Federal monuments and parks, and a New York City tourism information center. The gift shop has colonial and early American items for sale.

It was reported on June 8, 2008, that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ABC News have invited 2008 United States presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to a town hall forum at Federal Hall [http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/story?id=5021604&page=1] . However, both candidates declined the offer "because they do not want it limited to one television network." [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080608/ap_on_el_pr/bloomberg_town_hall]

Cultural references

*Federal Hall has appeared in several movies as well as Rage Against the Machine's music video for Sleep Now in the Fire featuring Michael Moore.
*In the video game "", the final boss fight of the game takes place on top of Federal Hall, after Arsenal Gear crashes through Manhattan and stops at Federal Hall, damaging the right side of the structure.

References

*"The National Parks: Index 2001–2003". Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior.

External links

*Official NPS website: [http://www.nps.gov/feha/ Federal Hall National Memorial]
*National Parks of NY Harbor Conservancy: [http://nyharborparks.org/visit/feha.html Federal Hall Visitor Information]
* [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/bdsds/nyc.html Library of Congress - The New Capital City]
** Engraving: [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/bdsds/photo38.jpgFederal Hall, The Seat of Congress]
** Lithograph: [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/bdsds/fedhall.jpgA View of the Federal Hall, 1797]
* [http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/09/05/federal.hall/index.html CNN - Symbolic site for Congress to meet, 9/5/2002]
* [http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Farewell_NY.htm U.S. Senate - Farewell to New York]
* [http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=2995b976a54e075f2ecc11763b496169 Model of Federal Hall National Monument] for Google Sketchup and Google Earth


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