Early in the history of our country, the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, determined that the United States would have a sound national currency. Philadelphia soon became a major banking center.
The Second Bank of the United States was established in 1816. This beautiful Greek revival building was finished in 1824, designed by William Strickland. The bank remained here until President Andrew Jackson revoked its charter in 1836. After that point, the building housed another bank for a while. Then, from 1845 to 1935, it was the US Customs House. Today, it contains a vast collection of portraits of American leaders.
It's open 11:00 to 4:00, Wednesday through Sunday, and it's free.
It is just down the street from Independence Hall and Liberty Bell, a very short walk.
Located on Chestnut Street, between 4th and 5th Streets, the newly installed "People of Independence" exhibit in the Second Bank includes 185 paintings of Colonial and Federal leaders, military officers, explorers and scientists, including many by Charles Willson Peale.
Designed by William Strickland, this building, built between 1819 and 1824, is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the United States. The Second Bank was incorporated in 1816 and was one of the most influential financial institutions in the world until 1832, when it became the center of bitter controversy between bank president Nicholas Biddle and President Andrew Jackson. The bank ceased to exist in 1836 after Jackson vetoed the bill to renew its charter. The building continued for a short time to house a banking institution under a Pennsylvania charter. From 1845 to 1935 the building served as the Philadelphia Customs House.
Hours are from 11 am - 4 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free.
The Second Bank is quite similar in its outward appearance to the First Bank. The lines are classical, the columns fluted, and the entablature gray and noble. Inside however is a treat for the foot-weary visitor, a wonderful collection of American portrait paintings by Peale and others -- all original and all free. The general prohibitions against flash photography on old paintings do not apply here, but for the sake of preservation do not use flash inside. On sunny days there is often enough light coming through the windows to permit decent photography. Each of the several rooms within the Bank house paintings of illustrious statesmen, American presidents and vice-presidents, their wives, and entrepreneurs, financiers and potentates of the day.
This is the second bank of the U.S. It was the central bank of the USA until Andrew Jackson decided to withdraw the nation's money.