George Washington stands guard outside the Federal Hall. He was inaugurated here in 1789 as the first President of the United States, when it served as the first capitol building. It later hosted the First Congress, where the American Bill of Rights was passed. It seems incredible that a building of such historic consequence to the new republic was demolished only a few years later for a few hundred dollars worth of scrap. Only a few remnant survive.
The new building is now a memorial to these events. Part of the original railings and balcony floor are on show inside the memorial - these are the sole remains of the building which once stood here.
The National Park Service calls the Federal Hall National Memorial, "The Birthplace of American Government." Two presidents were inaugurated in New York City, beginning with the first ‘Dubya’ – George Washington – who took the oath in Federal Hall in 1789, back when New York was the first capital. (Chester Alan Arthur was the second.) There’s a nice statue outside, overlooking the New York Stock Exchange across Wall Street, and a small, recently renovated museum on post-colonial New York inside.
In addition to George Washington taking the oath of office as our first President, this site was home to the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. The current structure, a Customs House, later served as part of the US Sub-Treasury. Now, the building serves as a museum and memorial to our first President and the beginnings of the United States of America.
My visit was before the "Wall Street occupation" movement began but as I was reviewing facts for this Tip, I came across more than one notification that "Federal Hall National Memorial is announcing a temporary change to how the public will access the building. Taking this action affords visitors safe access to the site without interfering with those participating in 1st amendment activities at the site." What about those 1st amendment hooligans interfering with my rights to enjoy the National Park for which I am paying?"
There is no admission fee.
Self-guided tours are available from 9-5 M-F.
Free guided tours are available to the public Monday through Friday at 10 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM, 2 PM, and 3 PM, subject to staff availability. No reservation is necessary.
This National Memorial is the site where Washington was sworn in as the first president as well as being home to Congress and the Supreme Court. Today, it serves as a memorial and small museum. I happened to stop in about 10 minutes before closing, but was able to breeze through pretty quickly. The piece that stands out most to me was the stone floor on which Washington stood for his swearing-in ceremony. At other times, you can see the Bible that was used for the ceremony, but it was not there when I was!
If you're into walking, try the Patriot Trail, a self-guided walking tour through America's most partriotic neighborhood!
The tour lasts approximately one hour and begins one block east of the World Trade Center site at Broadway and Vesey Street.
The tour was put together by the Alliance for Downtown New York, after the fall of the World Trade Centers.
The tour begins, ideally, one block east of the World Trade Center site at Broadway and Vesey Street. Stops along the route include famed Saint Paul's Chapel built in 1766, the Federal Reserve Bank which has more gold bullion than Fort Knox, Federal Hall where George Washington was sworn in as the nation's first president in 1789, the New York Stock Exchange, Fraunces Tavern where Washington gave his splendid Farewell Address in 1783, Bowling Green Park, and Trinity Church where Alexander Hamilton is buried.
This classical Dorian style building used to be the US Customs House - and later a bank, but now houses an interactive computer exhibition about the constitution. The original building was demolished in 1812, the current one was built between 1834-1842. The bronze statue of George Washington on the steps outside marks the place where the first president of the United States of America took his oath of office on April 30, 1789.
- nearby places of interest :
The New York Stock Exchange is across the street. Trinity church is at the western end of Wall St and can be seen from Federal Hall.
I don’t know how this happened, but somehow, even growing up in NYC, I never made it to Federal Hall. (One would think that somewhere in all those years of class trips we would have made it to the spot of George Washington’s inauguration.) I was really shocked by how exciting it was and have to admit I got a charge out of seeing the Bill of Rights and the bible on which Washington was sworn in. So much has already been written about it, that I’ll just let my pictures stand for themselves. I’ll just say be sure not to miss this, especially if you have kids—they’ll get an incredible sense of not just New York history, but United States history as well. Plus, it’s an amazingly accessible place in that they allow you to take pictures and really linger. This would absolutely be on my short list of things to do in New York City.
This statue of George Washington marks the spot where he took the oath of presidency. The original builidng (torn down in 1803) served as the seat of the federal government and the first meeting site for the Senate. Inside is a rotunda containing Washington memorabilia and other displays. Also inside is a comprehensive tourist's guide to National historic sites in the NY area as well as for places of interest in NY City and State.
Federal Hall is an impressive looking building, located in the heart of Wall Street.
It is where George Washington was inaugurated as President back in 1789.
There is a statue of him out the front, standing proudly and keeping an eye on the action on Wall Street.
Entry is free, so at least pop in and have a look at the beautiful marbled interior.
This is the site of the Inauguration of the First President of the United States - George Washington, as well as the site of the first congress.