8. Federal Hall Has Seen Many Change Since it Was Built as City Hall in 1700
Photo via Wikimedia: Library of Congress
The former building called City Hall was first built in 1700. By 1789, City Hall was in disrepair and needing to be remodeled. Wealthy citizens of New York City raised $32,000 for the purpose of remodeling City Hall into Federal Hall for George Washington’s inauguration in 1789.
Within the 1700-built City Hall were two grand staircases leading to a second floor courtroom; as well as basement cells for prisoners and attic cells for debtors.
Pierre Charles L’Enfant remodeled the building for the 1789 inauguration. The outside and lower portion of the building included a Tuscan style portico with seven openings, with the second floor balcony awning held up by four massive Doric columns. Above the balcony was an image of an eagle with 13 arrows and an olive branch in its talons.
Inside, the Senate Chamber ceilings were 20 feet high; arched and blue, with 13 stars in the center. The Senate room measured 30 feet by 40 feet. Above the President’s chair, which stood upon a 3-foot platform, was a canopy of crimson. The windows were also draped in crimson. Chairs and desks in the room formed a semi-circle. There were three massive windows facing Wall Street, which opened up onto a 12-foot balcony and to the iconic inauguration railing.
The Hall of Representatives was similar, though octangular, 58 feet by 61 feet with an arched ceiling with a desk and chair for each Representative.
The current Federal Hall National Memorial is on the same site as the former City Hall and Federal Hall, and is run by the National Park Service. On its front steps is a large statue of George Washington near or on the place he stood while taking the oath of office. His pose is to represent the moment he brought his hand up from the bible.