2.The Cupola on City Hall or the Justice Statue Are Not the Original

Photo by Apostolis of In Food We Trust, an Untapped Cities Insider member

In 1858, the cupola caught fire when fireworks were set off from the roof to celebrate the laying of the trans-Atlantic cable. On May 10, 1917, the cupola again went up in flames when a worker accidentally knocked over a bucket of hot tar, as the roof was undergoing repairs, in anticipation of the French Peace Mission arriving to New York City during World War I. The cupola was again reconstructed.

Restoration work done on City Hall in anticipation of the building’s bicentennial in 2012, included a complete recreation of the cupola for a third time, which according to City Hall, “was demolished down to the supporting steel structure and a reinforced fiberglass structure [was] placed on top of the building in its stead.”

The 1858 fire was so dramatic that the first statue of Justice, made of wood, at the top of the cupola, crashed “through the ceiling and into the rotunda,” according to City Hall. A second Justice sculpture as also made of wood but deteriorated by 1887 and was replaced again. In a more recent restoration of the sculpture, it was completely removed from the site (with its arms detached), but not before complete documentation was made.

Become an Insider and join us on our next off-limits tour!