5. The Dome of City Hall is Also Not Original
The central rotunda of City Hall is intended to express ideals of openness, accessibility and transparency. Many city halls around the country would later copy this space. “It’s not an office, it’s not a meeting room,” says Betts, although the space has been used for formal events, like the ceremony for the Awards for Excellence in Design from the Public Design Commission. Both Ulysses S. Grand and Abraham Lincoln lay in state in the rotunda, but Lincoln is the only person to have laid in state at the top of the staircase.
The dome was damaged in the 1858 fire, and was rebuilt along with the cupola. Grosvenor Atterbury later restored City Hall from 1909 to 1930. As part of this multi-decade work, the dome was replaced in concrete, lowered and widened. The oculus was redesigned and a balustrade was added, based on original drawings of City Hall. Betts says the concrete technique was a little “too innovative” for its time and during a later restoration, the concrete was found to have failed and had to be removed. Atterbury’s restoration as a whole, however, were very faithful to the drawings and architectural books of the original architect, John McComb Jr.
It’s here in the rotunda that you can see the influence that City Hall architect Joseph F. Mangin had in the design. It looks very similar to the City Hall in Nancy, France where Mangin is from.