6. There Are Over 100 Pieces of Art in City Hall

Betts tells us that there are over 100 pieces of art in City Hall, including nearly 110 portraits of New York dignitaries, as well as other notable historical figures like the Marquis de Lafayette. The city started commissioning portraits in 1790, starting with George Washington’s. Betts also notes that most of the artistic portrayals are unfortunately mostly of “white guys” although there is one portrait by a woman.

The statue of George Washington in the entrance hall is a bronze cast of a marble original, which is located in the Virginia State Legislature. The artist Jean-Antoine Houdon was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to do the original and about fifty casts were made. “This is a close as you will get to what George Washington looked like” says Betts, because Houdon took a plaster cast of Washington’s face, neck and shoulders, and took measurements of Washington’s arms, torso, and legs. The sculpture in City Hall was paid for in part by the schoolchildren of New York City (aww).

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