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Federal Hall National Memorial

A monument on the site of the old Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States.

TravelCurious Tip

Feeling flush? Head to 'Reserve Cut', a high-end steakhouse just several blocks away

The original Federal Hall was the birthplace of North American government. Built in 1700 as New York’s City Hall, it later served as the first capitol building of the USA under the constitution. It was also the site of George Washington’s inauguration as the first president in 1789, and where the US Bill of Rights was introduced in the first congress. Although the original building was demolished in 1812, this memorial was built on the same site on Wall Street just thirty years later.


The memorial is marked by a giant statue of George Washington himself, and the sense of history about the place is palpable. Guided tours of the building are offered throughout the day and its exhibits include George Washington’s Inauguration Gallery, along with the bible he used and the very slab of stone he stood on while taking his oath, and an exhibition on the struggles of John Peter Zenger, who was jailed, tried and acquitted of libel for exposing government corruption in his newspaper.


Even today the building’s symbolic significance remains strong: on September 6th, 2002, roughly 300 members of the US Congress convened there in a show of support for the city, which was still recovering from the trauma of 9/11. Just four blocks away from the World Trade Centre site, this was the first meeting of Congress in New York since 1790.


A Tale of Two Cities

The classical architecture of the Federal Hall National Memorial reflects two North American ideals. The Doric columns of the facade were inspired by those of the Parthenon in Athens and acknowledge Greece, the birthplace of democracy. Inside, the domed ceiling resembles that of Rome’s Pantheon and evokes the republican ideals of the Roman empire. Together, they represent the form of government the USA aspires to.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in New York
Wall Street
The hub of US financial services that has come to represent capitalism in its purest form.
New York Stock Exchange
The world's most valuable stock exchange, trading billions of dollars daily.
Trinity Church
A venerable church in the Wall Street area, with a turbulent history and reported land holdings of over $2 billion.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
A major financial decision-maker, this bank played a key role in the authorities' reaction to the recent economic crisis.
Charging Bull
A guerilla installation following the 1987 stock market crash, the Charging Bull remains in the financial district as a symbol of energy, strength and unpredictability.
Bowling Green
Small park where a statue of George III used to reign over Lower Manhattan

Related Tours

Private Walking Tour of Historic Wall Street District
The past of New York is always close to the southern tip of Manhattan. From the legacy of Dutch settlers to the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in 2001, it remains a place at the forefront of the human story. Go with your own guide on a journey around the city’s historic heart.   

  • Learn about New Amsterdam in the Historic District of New York
  • See the best financial sights of Lower Manhattan, including Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange
  • Visit the National 9/11 Memorial and see how the tragic events of 2001 are remembered
America: Humble Beginnings and Financial Power

Your  tour  starts with the unpretentious tale of the early settlers to the city, from a sleepy Dutch trading post to the dazzling rise of the world's busiest financial capital. You will have the pleasure of visiting Stone Street in the Historic District before moving north, just as the settlers did.

As you make your way through Wall Street you will discover how an 18th century street bazaar would eventually become a center for global commerce. Your expert local guide will give you valuable behind the scenes insight into some of the world’s most powerful financial institutions, as you walk by New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall. Here you will see the spot where George Washington was inaugurated and enjoy the handsome Federal Reserve. There will also be a chance to pop into Trinity Church, which has roots dating back to 1697.
 
 A Moving Memorial
 

 At the National 9/11 Memorial your guide will share with you the history of the World Trade Center, discuss the tragic events of 9/11, and walk you through the Memorial’s design. The area formerly known as 'Ground Zero' is now the site of a moving memorial and has indeed become an important historic landmark. Next to it is the rebuilt One World Trade Center. Often referred to as Freedom Tower, it stretches 1776 feet above the ground. 

Here your knowledgeable guide will tell you of the events leading up to the untimely destruction of the towers, as well as sharing some of the heart-wrenching stories of the families, survivors and 9/11 heroes. You will also visit St. Paul's Chapel, that miraculously survived the 9/11 attack. 
Private Walking Tour of Hamilton's New York
The history of Hamilton and several Founding Father's New York holds many stories. As one of the oldest European-founded cities in North America, it is a great place to see important places for revolutionary American history. A former base of the British in the New World, it became the headquarters of the Crown Forces in the Revolutionary War. Avid musical fans will recall that New York City was also the capital of the nascent USA before it "was traded down the river" by Alexander Hamilton in a shrewd negotiation with James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Journey with your guide through history to see places where, if events had turned out differently, the USA you know today would not exist (dare we mention "the room where it [may have] happened"?). 

·        Walk where slaves were punished and liberty poles put up in City Hall Park
·        See George Washington’s pew in St Paul’s Chapel
·        Spend time where the Bill of Rights was written at the Federal Hall National Memorial
·        Visit Alexander Hamilton’s grave at Trinity Church
·        Stop by the original national banks and learn about Hamilton's role in establishing the US credit system
·        See where a mob tore down George III on Bowling Green
·        Experience the feelings of a successful revolution at Fraunces Tavern Museum where you can imagine revolutionary brothers making declarations about "not throwing away their shots"
·        Learn about how the British left New York in Battery Park

A New Nation

Outside New York City Hall is City Hall Park. Now a common meeting place for the city’s inhabitants, it was historically the site of brutality: slaves suspected of starting fires in 1741 were burnt alive here. 25 years later, the first of five liberty poles were erected. Ten years later—though in the same spot, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to George Washington and the Continental Army. Hear your guide tell you the history of the place before you set off together down Broadway to St Paul’s Chapel. 

Built in 1766, and with King George III’s coat of arms still present on the balcony, this Episcopalian chapel is done in a Georgian architectural style. The place where George Washington worshipped after his inauguration, his pew is still there beneath an 18th century painting of the Great Seal of the United States. 

Stepping through the Past

Moving towards Federal Hall and Trinity Church, your guide will tell you about the role that New York played during the Revolutionary War. As you walk through streets of lower Manhattan that burnt down following the retreat of Continental troops— an event which remains slightly controversial to this day— you will learn how Washington tried to prevent the British taking the city in 1776, escaping disaster across the East River in Brooklyn before being forced to retreat from Manhattan. 

While the place is now covered by the marble Federal Hall National Memorial, your guide will be able to help you imagine the building it replaced. As the original Capitol Building of the USA, it hosted the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, the Continental Congress and the First Congress, including the writing of the Bill of Rights. From there, it is a short walk to Trinity Church where George Washington was a regular worshipper. Be sure to venture to the left of the church to see the grave of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton; a man who played a key role in America’s economic path and is the namesake of the 11 Tony Award winning Broadway musical.

Into the City’s Historic Heart

Passing the site of the Alexander MacComb House, the second presidential mansion of the USA where George Washington lived in 1790, your guide will take you into the heart of the New York Financial District; and the old colonial city. Stopping at Bowling Green, your guide will talk about how, in 1776, a crowd tore down a statue of George III to covert it into bullets for the Continental Army— leaving marks which can still be seen today. Walking within the heart of the old Dutch City, you will also venture down Broad Street – built on the site of a filled-in Dutch canal – to Fraunces Tavern where George Washington dismissed his officers in 1783.

As you near the southern tip of Manhattan, your guide will take you past the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House and tell you the story of Fort George (known as Fort Amsterdam before 1664), which used to stand on the site. Lastly, you will visit Battery Park, which played host to the British Army's 'Evacuation Day' of 1783 as the "world turned upside down." 
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