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The site at Federal Hall National Memorial began in 1703 as New York’s first City Hall. The Stamp Act Congress met here in colonial times to protest taxation without representation. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first capital of the United States in 1789 and George Washington was inaugurated on its front steps.
The capital and Congress moved to Philadelphia a year later and the original Federal Hall was demolished in 1812. The current building has been there since 1842. It was the Customs House and then the Treasury building. In 1939 it became a National Memorial and now contains some relics dating back to Washington’s inauguration.
We visited Federal Hall after touring the 9-11 Memorial a few blocks away on a chilly winter day. We arrived in time to take a tour of the building with a ranger. He pointed out a lot of the architectural features and talked about the historical significance of the site.
The ranger pointed out some cracks in the wall over one of the doorways, with gauges to monitor movement. When the Twin Towers fell in 2001, the impact caused tremors which damaged Federal Hall’s structure.
In Sept 2002, a year after the attacks, Congress convened in Federal Hall for the first time in over 200 years to show support for New York’s recovery. In 2004, Federal Hall closed for a two-year renovation to repair the damage.
Location: 26 Wall St, New York, NY 10005
Designation: National Memorial
Date designated or established: 1939
Date of my visit: February 24, 2012