An initiative to restore and interpret an unheralded national treasure in the heart of New York’s Financial District

FEDERAL HALL

One of the nation’s most significant historical sites — and America’s newest National Treasure.

Read about it in The New York Times.

First American Capital

New York City was the first seat of government under the U.S. Constitution and the first Federal Hall was the first capitol building.

First American Congress

The first Federal Congress gathered here, enacting more important legislation than any session since,  transforming  the 4,500 words of the Constitution – which never mentions democracy – into the enduring democratic republic that is America today.

First American President

George Washington was inaugurated here as the first President – inventing the office of the Presidency and setting its now familiar precedents.

America’s original capitol building was demolished in 1812. In its stead, at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets in Lower Manhattan, stands a Greek Revival masterpiece. Erected in 1842, it was the city’s first U.S. Custom House. The architects, Ithiel Town and Alexander Davis, modeled its exterior on the Parthenon and its interior rotunda, on the Roman Pantheon.  Embodying the ancient world’s principles of democracy and republicanism, this noble edifice symbolizes the cultural aspirations of America, forged at this site by the Founding Fathers.

Named a National Historic Site, 1939
Designated a National Memorial, 1955
Landmarked by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1965
Recognized as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2015

Vision

RESTORE
the magnificent Greek Revival memorial marking this historic site and its environs

Reveal
the stories of the birth of American democracy here in New York City in 1789

Illuminate
the relevance of these events commemorated to America today

Sustain
Federal Hall financially and impart the history and principles it embodies for generations to come

A public-private partnership between the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy and the National Park Service has been created to realize this vision.

Founded in 2006, the Harbor Conservancy is the official nonprofit partner of The Federal Hall Project. It will spearhead and produce the major programs, projects and activities at the site, raising over $18 million.  Already, $3.6 million has been designated for Federal Hall’s preservation initiatives.  The National Park Service is the steward of  22 sites in the New York City area, including such icons as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Need

Years of underfunding have resulted in tangible physical and aesthetic deterioration in a building whose historic and architectural importance is beyond dispute.

Over two decades have passed since any major restoration efforts have occurred.  Water from roof gutters and downspouts invade the uppermost floors.  In the basement, seepage threatens critical operating systems. Residues mark the columns and walls. Broken pavers and glass mar floors and windows.  Damaged marble defaces the interior.

Sadly, too, its historical significance has never truly resonated with the public.  The remains of every day are an array of cigarette butts and litter left on its famed Wall Street steps.

Minimally, Federal Hall’s dignity needs to be restored and its educational power unleashed for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Work

Current projects

The Wall Street Steps

Our iconic front steps have for decades been America’s soapbox, a democratic platform for the exercise of First Amendment rights. From the bond and political rallies of the 1940’s through 1960’s to the Occupy Movement of the new millennium, the steps of Federal Hall is where Americans come for debates, dissent and dialogue.

The years however, have taken their toll. In 2015, the Harbor Conservancy secured the support of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to restore the steps─ a project which when complete, will return George Washington’s perch over Wall Street, to glory.

Historic Interior

Decades of use without restoration have left its mark on the historic interior.  A survey of marble and glass elements and a pilot cleaning project is underway.  Funded by The New York Community Trust, when finished, this initiative will determine the scale of Federal Hall’s restoration needs and the transformation possible with support.

Visionary Programs

A plan for the future programming of the site, with dynamic and inspirational experiences, is in-progress with the world-renowned museum design and media firm, Ralph Applebaum Associates. Its implementation is anticipated by 2020.

 

Completed work

To date, we have completed the installation of a fire suppression system through a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. We have catalogued and digitized Federal Hall’s historic collections with generous support from the Leon Levy Foundation.  We have restored the iconic John Quincy Adams Ward bronze statue of George Washington, through a grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Through support from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and with matching Centennial Challenge funds, we have also produced a series of free interpretive audio tours on 400 years of New York City history.

Get Involved

You can join this historic effort today by signing up to receive updates on our progress and information about scheduled public events.

To inquire about how to support the project, contact Harbor Conservancy Chair, Marian Heiskell and President, Marie Salerno at 212-668-2322 or msalerno@federalhall.org.

Today

Tours and Displays

Daily park ranger tours of Federal Hall share the site’s extraordinary role in the shaping of American government. On view are the original bible used by George Washington at his inauguration and a section of the railing and stone tablet he stood on from the balcony of first Federal Hall, where he took the oath of office. Learn more about visiting Federal Hall.

 

PRIVATE Events

Be one of the first to host your special event at Federal Hall and directly contribute to the effort toward restoration and interpretation. The landmark building is a great Wall Street venue for intimate events or large gatherings. Learn about our new space rentals program.

Visit

26 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005
Main entrance at Wall and Nassau Streets.
Wheelchair accessible entrance at 15 Pine Street.

Keep up

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