Federal Hall National Memorial

Audio Available:

OVERVIEW: About this audio-described brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Federal Hall National Memorial  official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Federal Hall National Memorial visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 20 minutes which we have divided into seven sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections section 1-2] cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding... Sections RANGE 3-7 cover the back of the brochure.

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OVERVIEW: Federal Hall

Federal Hall National Memorial is located at in New York City at 26 Wall Street between Nassau and William Streets. Federal Hall National Memorial is one of over 400 parks in the National park System. 

Birthplace of American Government. Here on Wall Street, George Washington took the oath of office as our first President, and 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.

National Parks: Accessible to Everyone

The National Park Service provides a variety of programs, exhibits, and informational opportunities for all of our visitors.

Federal Hall National Memorial is fully accessible to wheelchair users. Ramp access is available through the rear entrance at 15 Pine Street. An elevator provides access to the upper and lower levels of the building.


Federal Hall is open year-round.

Our hours of operation during are: Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m,, and closed on Saturday and Sunday.

This site is also closed on the following federal holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The site may also close due to inclement weather. Please check for alert notifications on this website. When visiting Federal Hall, please stop by our visitor center, near the Pine Street entrance at the north end of the main floor. Here you will find a great deal of information about what we have to offer, and there will be a park ranger to assist you. For further information call: (212) 825- 6990.

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OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure

At the top of the page is one  color illustration of George Washington  standing on the second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, a building that no longer exits. It is his inauguration ceremony in 1789. 

In the middle is the story, told in text. Text is  presented under this section.

At bottom of this page is one color illustration is  scene of the  New York Harbor. In the foreground is a rowboat dominated by the figure of George Washington, who is standing up. 

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IMAGE: George Washington swearing-in ceremony in 1789

Painting: Inauguration

Artist: Ramon de Elorriaga

Year: 1889

Medium: Oil paint on canvas

Location: Federal Hall National Memorial, New York City

George Washington is standing on the second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, a building that no longer exits. It is his inauguration ceremony in 1789. He is wearing a brown suit. His right hand is resting on a bible as he takes the oath of office.

In the foreground and background are about twenty people, whom we know from other sources include the vice-president, congressmen, cabinet members, military officers, and other dignitaries

A crowd of people is gathered on the streets and people are cheering from the windows of a nearby building

In the distance is Trinity Church covered by scaffolding


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TEXT: George Washington Inaugurated Here as First U.S. President

QUOTE: "In our progress toward political happiness my station is new; and if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent." — George Washington, January 9, 1790

TEXT: On April 30, 1789, the corner of Wall and Broad streets was awash in people. As a hush settled on the crowd all eyes fixed on the tall man standing above them on the balcony. He was surrounded by officials of the new government of the United States and of the city and state of New York. The man was George Washington, and he was by now a living legend. His journey from Mount Vernon to this balcony had been one long parade, with town after town turning out to greet him with salutes, bands, and elaborate pageantry.

Already older than most people present, the building where Washington stood had been built in 1703 for the British royal governor’s council and the assembly of New York. This was also New York City Hall, so prisoners were held and trials conducted here. In an influential verdict in 1735 a jury found printer Peter Zenger not guilty of libel. Articles in Zenger’s newspaper had criticized the Royal Governor. Zenger’s defense was that he only printed the truth!

After Britain’s imposition of the Stamp Act in 1765, delegates of nine colonies met here to air grievances, declaring “no taxation without representation.” In 1775 the revolutionary Provincial Assembly of New York took over use of the building. After the American Revolution this became the nation’s capitol when, in 1785, the Congress under the Articles of Confederation sat here.

Washington's arrival inaugurated a new era in the life of the struggling young nation. Four years earlier, representatives of Virginia and Maryland met at Mount Vernon to discuss weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, the United States' first plan of government. Their discussion led to meetings at Annapolis, Md., and, in 1787, Philadelphia. This last meeting would produce the system of government under which the United States of America operates to this day.

Ratifying the new Constitution had been a hard-fought battle, and many Americans harbored serious doubts about the document. The Constitution was indeed a compromise, a framework that would be filled in by experience and the actions of the new government. Most important was the passage here in 1790 of the first amendments to the Constitution, which became known as the Bill of Rights. Here at New York's old colonial city hall, now newly refurbished by architect Pierre L'Enfant and renamed Federal Hall, a new experiment would begin.

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IMAGE: Flotilla

George Washington arriving by boat to New York City for his inauguration

No info on painting

The scene is New York Harbor. In the foreground is a rowboat dominated by the figure of George Washington, who is standing up. His left arm is raised with his hat in his hand in a gesture of waving to the crowds on the shore.

The back of the boat is filled with six well-dressed men in suits while the front contains twelve oarsmen. The oarsmen consist of both Europeans and African-Americans, the latter of whom are most likely enslaved, all of whom together representing a mosaic of American life.

On the shore there is a cheering crowd raising their hands. In back of them are three buildings in the Dutch style known by their step-like roofs.

There are three other rowboats in the scene and three sailing ships in the distance. Smoke in the background suggests the firing of cannons and flags fluttering everywhere suggests a breeze in the air.


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OVERVIEW: Back side of brochure

The back of the brochure includes test, historic photographs, and photographs of Fedeal Hall. Most photos are black and white unless indicated as color.

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TEXT: From City Hall to Federal Hall and beyond

A Bill of Rights and the First Congress Launch the Nation

As the new government met, the stakes were high, and all eyes were again on new President George Washington and the Congress. Despite Washington’s universal popularity, many worried about what presidential precedents he might set. The nation’s direction was still in doubt.   

Many states, including New York, had withheld approval of the Constitution until assured that it would guarantee rights like freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. North Carolina and Rhode Island still had not ratified the document as the new government met. However, passage of 10 of the proposed 12 new amendments guaranteed basic rights and fostered broad acceptance of the new system of government, even among skeptics.

This single, seven-month session of the first Congress left a lasting mark on the United States by filling in the framework of the Constitution with laws and precedents. In addition to the Bill of Rights, Congress passed the Judiciary Act that established the coexistence of state and federal courts and laws. Some important precedents set were the Senate’s role in diplomacy, Presidential control of cabinet appointments, and how the President should be addressed. The republic was launched.

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IMAGE: Constitution

Senate Chamber

The Senate Chamber

The scene is a room that appears to be about 40 feet wide and 30 feet from the foreground to the background based on other sources.

The desks are arranged in two concentric semicircles facing a low platform or dais upon which is a regal-looking chair, most likely for the President of the Senate and other speakers. A seven-step stairway leads up to the dais On either side of the dais are desks.

In the foreground, on the right, sunlight pours through a window into the chamber. The only person in the scene is a man looking out the window. Based on comparisons with contemporary images we may guess that the window view is that of Wall Street.

On the far wall is a door with fireplaces on either side.

The ceiling appears to be about 15 feet tall. In the center is a large circular ornamental feature that resembles a wheel with spokes emanating from the center.


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IMAGE: Senate Chamber

Senate Chamber

The Senate Chamber

The scene is a room that appears to be about 40 feet wide and 30 feet from the foreground to the background based on other sources.

The desks are arranged in two concentric semicircles facing a low platform or dais upon which is a regal-looking chair, most likely for the President of the Senate and other speakers. A seven-step stairway leads up to the dais On either side of the dais are desks.

In the foreground, on the right, sunlight pours through a window into the chamber. The only person in the scene is a man looking out the window. Based on comparisons with contemporary images we may guess that the window view is that of Wall Street.

On the far wall is a door with fireplaces on either side.

The ceiling appears to be about 15 feet tall. In the center is a large circular ornamental feature that resembles a wheel with spokes emanating from the center.


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IMAGE: House of Representatives Chamber

House of Representatives Chamber

The center of the scene is dominated by two concentric semicircles of desks with chairs for the members. In the background there is a speaker’s chair is on a raised dais with five windows above the chair. Lots of sunlight pours through the windows. In the foreground there are benches for viewing the proceeding when the House is in session

A balcony projects from a wall on the left side of the scene


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IMAGE: Greek Revival Federal Hall

Federal Hall, Wall Street, and Trinity Church

The scene is of Federal Hall viewed from a southeast perspective. The building has three stories and a tower. There are eight windows on the front or south wall and seventeen windows on the east wall. The ground level in both the front of the building and the east wall have covered walkways in the Federal style. Four Greek-style columns dominate the front-facing balcony and reach up to the roof. Smoke billows from one of its five chimneys. The street is paved in front of the building and landscaped by three bushes and one large tree.

Trinity Church is in the background and another unknown structure is in the foreground.

Twenty people are walking on Wall Street, and there is one riding a horse, and another in a carriage.


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IMAGE: Sub-Treasury

Sub-Treasury

Harpers Weekly 1869: Sub-treasury

The scene is a crowded room of the Sub-Treasury building in 19th-century New York City’s financial district.

About a dozen bearded and/or mustachioed men may be observed in the foreground. On the left side of the scene, four men are seated at a long table. At least one appears to be counting coins and stacking them in columns of five to ten coins. Another gentleman appears to be dumping coins from a bag onto the table. In the center of the scene a man is carrying a bag of what we may assume to be coins to a weigh station on the right where three standing men are holding bags near the scales. In the foreground on the right is a man holding a piece of paper possibly overseeing the operation.

Also in the center foreground is a low four-wheel wooden cart with a long T-shaped handle upon which are over twenty bags which, based on the text accompanying the illustration, we may assume to be gold and silver coins.


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IMAGE: Statue of George Washington

Statue of George Washington by John Quincey Adams Ward

Color photo

NPS

Material: Bronze

Year: 1882

The photo is of a statue of George Washington that fills the entire frame. The location is the front steps of what was at one time the Sub-Treasury building but is now Federal Hall National Memorial.

George Washington is wearing a late 18th-century suit, including britches, leggings, a vest, a jacket, and a long cape which drapes over a Roman-style fasces. His right hand is extended in a gesture of resting upon the bible in which he swore his oath of office although the book is not present.


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IMAGE: The Federal Hall rotunda

Four Corinthian columns in southern portion of Federal Hall NM rotunda

Color photo

NPS

In this color photograph there are four Corinthian columns of which we can see the upper three-fourths, including the highly decorative capitals.

Behind the columns there is a balcony fronted by a wrought iron railing. In the center of the railing, between the two center columns there is a round clock with a gilded iron eagle with outstretched wings above it. At the top of the photo is a portion of the rounded dome of the rotunda. 

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TEXT: Custom House and U.S. Sub-Treasury

The first Congress sidestepped a root question: how could the government secure funds? Federal reliance on states for money had doomed the Articles of Confederation. By 1812, when Federal Hall was demolished, tariff and banking issues divided the nation.

The present building arose in 1842 as a splendid Greek Revival Customs House, by which time Wall Street was already established as a center of finance. In 1862 the building became one of six Federal Sub-Treasuries storing silver and gold, until replaced by the Federal Reserve Bank in 1920.  As a sub-treasury, Federal Hall stored millions of dollars in gold and silver in its basement.


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TEXT: Planning your visit

Federal Hall is located at 26 Wall Street between Nassau and William streets. Open 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, and Monday through Saturday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Parking is limited and very expensive; use public transportation.

Visit www.mta.info for bus and subway routes and schedules.

Exhibits and a video honor the site’s history. A museum, bookstore, and tours (guided and self-guiding) are available.


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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

Federal Hall National Memorial is fully accessible to wheelchair users. Ramp access is available through the rear entrance at 15 Pine Street. An elevator provides access to the upper and lower levels of the building.

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OVERVIEW: More information

Federal Hall National Memorial is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more visit w w w dot g o v

ADDRESS:

National Park Service Manhattan Sites

26 Wall St.

New York, NY 10005

PHONE:

212-825-6990

WEB SITE:
w w w dot n p s dot g o v forward slash f e h a


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