Welcome to the audio-described version of Boston National Historical Park's official print brochure for Faneuil Hall. Through text and audio descriptions of photos and illustrations this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Boston National Historical Park visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of Faneuil Hall specifically, a site along the Freedom Trail. It contains historical information and also how the Hall is used in Boston today. This audio version lasts about 36 minutes which we have divided into eight sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections one through three cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding the construction of the Hall and its early usages. Sections four through eight cover the back of the brochure which talk about the Hall from the 1800s through today.
Please note that the Great Hall is owned by the city of Boston and is often rented out to the public for events. There is a strong possibility that the Great Hall will be closed on the day that you visit. If you would like to know the schedule for the Hall, please call our Visitor Center at six one seven two four two five six four two. If no one picks up, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Faneuil Hall is part of Boston National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park Service. It is located in downtown Boston, Massachusetts across from City Hall on Congress Street. This park, established in 1974, discusses the struggle for freedom in the United States since sixteen thirty. Each year, over three million visitors come to enjoy the unique history and experiences that only can be had at Boston National Historical Park. We invite you to explore the park's history where you can walk along the same roads as Paul Revere, see the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, or learn how a small group of people changed their futures by raising their voices in opposition. For those seeking to learn more about the park during their visit, informative audio guides can be downloaded from the website and Rangers can help you plan your visit at our Visitor Centers. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.
This color photograph shows the modern Great Hall of Faneuil Hall, located on the second and third floors of that building. It is taken from the third floor balcony and shows the inside of the Great Hall. The photograph frames several large scale paintings on the front wall of the building. In the center third of the front wall is a stage, elevated about 5 feet off the ground. The stage has a dark wood floor, and a base that has been painted white. The front face of the stage has been decorated with red, white, and blue bunting. On the periphery of the photo frame, portions of the third floor gallery and the white columns above and below it are visible. On either side of the stage, there are two large decorative columns that are embedded within the front wall with no structural purpose, but rather bring an aesthetic balance to the rest of the room.
Dominating the room, in between these decorative columns, is a large scale painting which was created by George P. Healy between 1846 and 1850. This painting depicts a meeting in the Old United States Senate Chambers in the Capital Building in Washington, D.C. during a meeting in 1830. Though the painting is fairly dark, the viewer can see Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster standing in the center of the painting making a speech on the red carpeted floor of the room. Surrounding him, sitting in desks, are a large group of men, many of whom were also Senators at the time. In the upper portion of the painting, there is a balcony which has a red fabric covering the front. Seated in the balcony are a few men and a large group of women, all of whom are looking at Daniel Webster as he speaks. The painting is surrounded by a large golden frame. On three sides, the frame has multiple lines running in the same direction as the frame bar. Spread out evenly through the frame and over the lines are small X shapes. There are three on the top bar, two on each of the side bars. The bottom bar of the frame has an inscription located in the center with the quote "Liberty and Union, Now and Forever." This bar does not have any other decoration on it. Hanging from the bottom bar of the frame are three name plates. These name plates are for the busts which are located on the stage under the painting. There are five busts in total. From left to right they depict: John Quincy Adams, Frederick Douglass, John Adams, Lucy Stone, and Daniel Webster.
While the busts of the Adams and Webster are made of white marble and have the signs above them telling people who the bust depicts, the ones for Douglass and Stone are made of bronze and have plaques on the bottom of the bust with their names. The busts are placed on pedestals of various heights. The bust of John Adams is on the tallest pedestal. Sitting just in front of the busts are nine chairs. The first three chairs on the right and the respective first three chairs on the left are all the same size. The center three chairs are all slightly taller than the ones on either side, with the chair in the center having the tallest back of them all. On either side of this center block of three chairs are two American flags. On the far sides of the stage, next to the two outermost chairs, are two unique flags. On the left side of the stage, beside the John Quincy Adams bust, is a Betsy Ross 13 star flag. In this flag, made during the American Revolution, there are 13 white stars arranged in a circle on the blue field in the upper left hand corner of the flag. This blue field takes up the first third of the flag horizontally and two thirds vertically. Extending out from this field are 13 stripes of alternating red and white stripes.
On the right side of the stage, by the Daniel Webster bust, is the City of Boston flag. The flag has a sky blue background, in the center of which is the city of Boston seal. The seal is made up of concentric circles. The outermost circle, making up the border of the seal, is navy blue in color. The circle just within that, creating a boundary between the border and the rest of the seal, is white in color. Inside this white circle is a bolder, golden ring, framed on either side by a thin line of navy blue. Inside this golden ring is Latin text, reading "SICUT PATRIBUS SIT DEUS NOBIS. CIVITATIS REGIMINE DONATA AD 1822." This translates to "As to our fathers may God be to us. Civil Government Chartered AD 1822." Inside of this yellow band is a white circle. On the top half of the circle is what looks like an etching, done in navy blue ink, of the City of Boston, sketched as if the artist was looking over the city from the on the Boston Harbor. On the bottom half of the circle is text, in navy blue writing, that reads "BOSTONIA, CONDITA AD 1630," which translates to "Boston, Founded AD sixty thirty." Directly in front of the centered chair is a wooden podium, where speakers can place their notes as they address their audience. There is a microphone stand on the podium's left hand side, with an arm extending a microphone into the center of the podium. On either side of the front of the stage are two more flags. On the front left hand corner of the stage, on the same side as the John Quincy Adams bust, is a current American flag. On the right hand side of the stage, on the same side as the Daniel Webster bust, is the Massachusetts State Flag. The flag has a white background with the state seal in the center of the flag. There is a solid colored navy blue shield, with a white five point star in the top left hand corner of the shield shape, representing that Massachusetts was one of the original thirteen states. In the center of the shield is a Native American, holding a bow that is almost as tall as he is in his right hand, and an arrow in his left hand. The entirety of the native figure, his clothing, headdress, and items in his hands, is colored gold. Resting just above the shield shape is what appears to be a striped ribbon, that changes color from gold to navy blue. Coming out from the top of this ribbon is an arm clutching what appears to be a cavalry sword. Framing the bottom of the shield is a navy blue ribbon, with golden text reading "ENSE PETIT PLACIDAM SUB LIBERTATE QUIETEM," translating to "By the sword we seek peace, but only under liberty." Just inside of both of these flags on the front portion of the stage are speakers, used to amplify sound in events that still occur in the hall. The large painting and the stage are illuminated by a line of stage lights on the ceiling, just in front of the painting and the stage.
On either side of the stage and the massive Healy painting are four more paintings, two on each side, with one just above the other. To the photographer's left hand side, on the upper portion of the wall, is a portrait of General Henry Knox. The lighting of the photograph makes it so this painting is barely visible. Just beneath the portrait of Knox is a slightly larger portrait of Peter Faneuil, the man who commissioned the original construction of the hall. This painting is also poorly lit, but it is evident that he is wearing a powdered wig and a red coat, and he is holding the architectural plans to the building in his hands. On the photographer's right hand side, on the upper portrait of the wall, is a portrait of Samuel Adams. This portrait is poorly lit, and he is barely visible. On the lower portion of the wall is a portrait of George Washington and his horse, as they valiantly defend Dorchester Heights during the Siege of Boston. The painting is also poorly lit, but it is evident that George is wearing a Continental Army Uniform. On both sides, separating the upper and lower paintings, is a white relief that contrasts with the gray wall. There is a white rectangle, framing a white carving of a ribbon draping across the gray wall within the rectangle frame, with the ribbon appearing to be pinned up in the center. Because of the placement of the photographer, there is one more painting visible on their right hand side. Separated from the other paintings by the beginning of the third floor gallery, and the columns that hold it in place, there is a portrait of John Hancock to the right of the portrait of Samuel Adams. This painting is poorly lit, and Hancock is barely visible.
The third floor Gallery is separated from the main portion of the Great Hall. It is elevated by a series of columns, which are placed both below and on top of the base of the third floor. The gallery has what appears to be about 4 rows of stadium seating set up just behind the columns that hold it in place. At the base of the gallery, there are a series of lamps that hang over the main portion of the hall. The lamps have an elaborate spiral arm, which holds in place a spherical bulb. Just above these lamps is a railing, ensuring that spectators do not fall over the gallery and into the main floor.
CAPTION: The Great Hall of Faneuil Hall.
This sketch of the original building of Faneuil Hall appears to have been drawn before the building was expanded to it's current size in 1806. The three story brick building with an A-Frame roof has a large cupola in the center of it, and is framed in the background by other smaller buildings, presumably made of both brick and wood. In the foreground of the building is a large courtyard, where locals interact with each other. Some of the people in the foreground are on foot, one is riding through on horseback. The image is framed by the text of the brochure above it, which describes the history of the building.
Because of the way the artist was positioned, only two faces of the building are visible: a long rectangular face representing the side of the building, and a smaller rectangular face representing the front of the building. On each floor, there are various arch-shaped openings. On the first floor, the front face has three open arched doorways, and the side face has 9 arch shaped doorways. These allowed passers by into the open air market, which would have resided on the first floor of the building. Vendors here would sell fish, meats, fruits, vegetables, and other material goods. The first and second floors are separated by what appears to be a crown molding. Along the second floor, there are arch shaped windows, roughly the same size as the arch shaped doorways below. Each window is placed directly above a doorway, meaning there are three windows on the front face, and nine windows on the side face. The windows and doors are all evenly spaced apart, and separated by what appear to be decorative columns embedded into the fabric of the building itself.
The third floor is nestled into the A-Frame roof, but it is evident there is a third story of sorts because of the windows nestled into the triangular pediment on the front face of the building, and the dormer windows protruding from the A Frame Roof. In the triangular pediment on the front face of the building, there are three windows: one smaller, arch shaped window in the center of the building, and two smaller circular windows on either side. On the side of the A-Frame roof closest to the artist, it appears as if there are at least four dormer windows, evenly spaced, protruding from the roof itself. It is hard to tell exactly how many windows there are, due to the nature of the way the sketch was shaded.
On either side of the A-Frame roof, where both slopes meet at a peak, there appear to be chimneys.
There is a large cupola in the center of the building made up of three parts. The base is a cube, made of brick, with one arch shaped window on each face. Resting on top of the base is what appears to be an octagonal prism. It is unclear what this portion of the cupola is made of, due to the nature of the sketch. On each face of the octagonal prism is an arch shaped window. The cupola is topped with a dome, that is shaped like a Meringue Cookie or domed tent.
In the foreground of the image, there are 8 people visible. As the eye scans from left to right, it first comes across a man on horseback. The horse is dark in color, and the man is wearing a hat. To the right of the man on horseback is a family of three. There is a small boy standing to the left of whom is presumably his father, both appearing to wave at the man on horseback. There is a lady in her best dressed standing to the right of them. Walking on ground just below the cupola are two more ladies, both in their best dresses. To the far right of the painting are two gentlemen walking. One man appears to be wearing traditional colonial clothing and a tricorn hat, and the man to the right of him appears to be hunched over. The reason why he is hunched over is unclear.
CAPTION: Faneuil Hall as it stood in 1742.
In early 18th century Boston a number of merchant families amassed great wealth through shipping and trade. Codfish, caught off the coast, were dried, salted, and traded in the West Indies for molasses and rum. These products were, in turn, exchanged in Europe for manufactured goods, or along the west coast of Africa, for slaves. One of the wealthiest Boston merchants of this era was Peter Faneuil.
Faneuil proposed to mark his success by building a central food market in his hometown. The merits of establishing a permanent marketplace had long been debated in Boston and all previous attempts had failed. Boston’s voters accepted Faneuil’s proposal only after much heated debate and by a slim majority. The building, as finally constructed in 1742, included not only an open market, but also a meeting space for the town government. The hall, named for Faneuil, was built on land gained by the filling of the small cover near the ancient and dilapidated town dock.
The lower level of the hall was divided into “stalls” which were leased for market purposes. Meat, vegetables, and dairy products could be purchased there in convenient, regulated surroundings on a daily basis. The large meeting room on the second floor became Boston’s official town hall. Here, in public session, Bostonians debated issues, elected town officials, voted local taxes, and spent town monies.
In 1761, fire gutted Faneuil Hall, burning the interior. Two years later repairs were completed -- this time financed by a public lottery. It was in this structure that the first rumblings of the American Revolution were felt.
The town meetings held in Faneuil Hall should only have concerned themselves with local issues. In the mid-1700s, however, the discussion turned to the taxation policies of the British Empire, and Faneuil Hall became the focus of revolutionary activity in Boston. At times protest meetings held at the hall spilled over into incidents of violence on the streets. Under the leadership of James Otis, Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren and other “Sons of Liberty,” debates led to opposition to the Sugar Tax of 1764, the Stamp Act of 1765, and other British political maneuvers. In December of 1773, sessions took place here concerning a newly arrived consignment of tea and the tax to be paid on it.
Though the rhetoric expressed here concerned only one community, Boston, reports were carried throughout the colonies and led them together towards unity and independence. Activities here earned Faneuil Hall its name as America’s “Cradle of Liberty.”
This black and white line drawing shows Faneuil Hall and the adjacent Quincy Market Place after 1825. It is a cut out of a larger image. The point of view is from the south and angled so that you can see the entirety of the south and east sides of Faneuil Hall and only a small portion of the west end of Quincy Market.
Unlike the image on the front side of the brochure, this image shows Faneuil Hall at its current size. The building is four stories tall with a cupola that is three stories tall located on the east end of the building. Since the drawing is done in black and white lines, the level of detailing on the building itself is not high. The first level of the building is obscured on the long side by canopies of a white material hanging off of the building. This makes it look like there are some tents on the side of the building. There are many soldiers shown standing in front of the building with their rifles at their shoulders, pointing straight in the air. This image is depicting the moment that a group of Massachusetts volunteers prepared to depart their homes and fight in the Civil War in 1861. Faneuil Hall often hosted events like this due to its central location. The part of the first story that you can see the most of is the east side. More tents extend around the corner and block the first two arch openings in the brick facade, which are arched shaped. In total, there are six of these arch shaped windows. In the center of this side of the building, there is an arched shaped entrance into the Hall. Each of these windows and the door have decorative pillars in between each of them. These pillars extend from the base of the windows and door to about a foot above the arch and end in a decorative molding on the building. It is not clear what materials are used for the pillars or the decorative molding.
The second and third stories of the building both have multiple arch shaped windows which are spread evenly across both the south and east sides. In total, there are 10 windows on the south or long side and seven windows on the east or short side. Each of these windows have multiple panes, though the detailing is difficult to see on the south side. In between the windows, on both levels, are more of the pillars. The ones for the second story emerge out of the decorative line from the first floor and extend into another decorative molding for the third floor. The pillars for the third story extend out of this decorative molding and end in another molding that runs along the roof line. Above the arched windows of the south or long side are small half circle arch windows. On the roof above four of these windows are small arches in the shingles or wood of the roof that raise slightly above the rest of the structure.
The pediment of the east, or shorter side, has a larger half circle arch window located in the dead center just above the final decorative molding. Around that, separated by a few feet, is a decorative and raised arch that looks to be made of a different material than the building. At either end of this level, there are small circular windows in the extreme corners of the pediment.
Located just above the east side of the pediment is a cupola. In the drawing, it appears to be made of wood. The base is a large rectangle extending straight up out of the building. There is one small arch shaped window each on the two sides that are shown in the image. Above these windows, the cupola extends from the center, but is smaller than the rectangle. There are three sides that can be seen in this image as the cupola is shaped like an octagon or eight sided shape. Each side has a large arch shaped window, though it may also be an opening. The shading does not make it apparent. The dome of the cupola is above these sides and is shaped like a sloped tent. Though the building should be shown with its grasshopper weathervane at the top, the angle that the artist chose does not show it. Rather, it looks like there is a long, skinny piece of metal extending straight up and out of the top of the cupola a few feet. The weathervane might have been turned away from the artist at this time.
There is a small chimney rising out of the approximate center of the roof line. It is shaped like a skinny rectangle and looks to be a few feet in height. At the top of the chimney, two small cylinder shapes are seen. Presumably, these are from two fireplaces in the building, though there is no smoke shown rising out of them.
CAPTION: Faneuil Hall and Quincy Marketplace after 1825.
After the Revolution, the size of Faneuil Hall became inadequate to meet the needs of the growing town. In 1805, Boston called upon Charles Bulfinch, one of America’s foremost architects, to expand Faneuil Hall. In a masterful design, Bulfinch doubled the width and height of the building without altering its basic style. The market area was enclosed by heavy doors. A new “Bulfinch interior” was installed in the meeting room, which remains virtually unchanged today.
With the adoption of the City Charter in 1822, government by town meeting ended, and the Hall was no longer the center of local political activity.
However, it remained a forum for the debate of national issues. Anti-slavery advocates held numerous rallies in the 1840s and 1850s, featuring speeches by William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, and Frederick Douglass. Preservation of the union, temperance, and women’s suffrage were also the subject of large gatherings. Noted speakers included Daniel Webster, Jefferson Davis, and Susan B. Anthony. The Hall’s reputation as the “Cradle of Liberty” continued.
Into the 21st century, Faneuil Hall has remained an active and important place for Bostonians. In the early 19th century the three granite structures of the Quincy Market were built to the east of the Hall. These, along with Faneuil Hall’s market stalls, continued to be Boston’s wholesale food distribution center until the ninety sixties. During the ninety seventies, the entire Faneuil Hall area underwent a major renewal, and today the stalls purvey food to the thousands of visitors each day.
The meeting room at Faneuil Hall still serves the people of Boston as a public meeting place as well. National issues continue to be discussed from its stage, but more frequently, the Hall is the site of debates on community issues, high school graduations, and naturalization ceremonies for new Americans. Peter Faneuil’s original Hall was intended to serve Bostonians as a market place for food on one level, and a market place for ideas on the second. Today this tradition continues.
The ground floor of Faneuil Hall contains shops and eating establishments. The second floor meeting room is staffed by Park Rangers of the National Park Service. The third floor contains the museum and armory of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. The Company, founded in sixteen thirty eight for the defense of the colony, has occupied space in Faneuil Hall since 1746. The Hall is open throughout the year and is accessible to persons who are disabled.
DESCRIPTION: This image shows the grasshopper weathervane of Faneuil Hall. A weathervane is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. It is typically used as an architectural ornament to the highest point of a building. Measuring about 4 feet in length and 40 pounds in weight, the weathervane is attached to the building by a pole. Located at the top of the cupola of Faneuil Hall, the grasshopper is made of copper and covered in a layer of gold plate. A grasshopper is an small insect that has six legs, three on either side, a head with antennae extending from the front, and an exoskeleton, which is a hard outer skeleton that protects its softer insides. While most grasshoppers have a set of wings, the weathervane does not show them.
The grasshopper's head is facing to the right. The antennae, a pair of long, thin sensory appendages on the heads of insects, extend out from the head of the grasshopper. The head is shaped like the letter d facing down and has a small eye near the antennae. The body of the grasshopper is shaped like a long, skinny oval. There are three legs total, two smaller and one large, on each side, though you can only see parts of the ones on the back. The two small legs in the front are shaped like an upside down V with the part of the leg attached to the body being shorter than the other part. These legs are located at the front and middle of the body. The third leg is quite large and would be used by the grasshopper to jump forward. Again shaped like a V, the part attached to the body is shaped like a large water droplet. The other part is a straight leg that ends in a square. This leg is located just behind and above the second smaller one. The body of the grasshopper from the middle to the end has a horizontal line going through the middle with vertical lines spaced evenly along it.
Six inches above the grasshopper is a golden colored ball. This ball is pierced by the pole, which begins to get thinner as it extends into the sky. About six inches above the ball the pole ends in a thin point.
About a foot below the grasshopper on the pole is a decorative element that is shaped like an "s" and made of metal. These are called s scrolls. There are at least four of these scrolls that are visible. These "s" shapes are leaning against the main pole and another shorter piece of metal that crosses the main pole horizontally, forming a plus sign. There are another set of these "s" shapes below the first ones as mirror images. These "s" shapes are cut off about halfway down. In between these s scrolls is a plus sign parallel to the ground. At the end of each piece of metal there are large gold capital letters which indicate the different directions: north, east, south, and west. You cannot see the letter for east or west because of the angel of the photo.
CAPTION: The golden weathervane of Faneuil Hall.
RELATED TEXT: For two centuries, the symbol of Faneuil Hall has been the grasshopper weathervane. Fashioned in 1742 by Deacon Shem Drowne, it may have been inspired by similarly designed weathervanes on the Royal Exchange building in London. Today, the weathervane is the only part of Faneuil Hall which remains totally unmodified from the original 1742 structure, and is a fine example of colonial artistry.
DESCRIPTION: This image shows the seal of the city of Boston. Designed in black and white, the main part of the seal is a circle with text and images inside of it. The image inside the circle is not that large, so it is difficult to see fine detail. Located from the middle of the circle and towards the top part is a line drawing of the city of Boston. Theoretically, this is what Boston looked like in 1822 when it changed from being a town into a city. There are many buildings depicted in this image with towers or steeples rising into the sky. There are markings in the upper portion of the image to indicate fair weather clouds. Above the image is text that follows the curve of the circle. Written in Latin, it is the motto of the city of Boston. This text starts at the left middle side of the circle and ends at the right middle side of the circle. The text reads: “SICUT PATRIBUS, SIT DEUS NOBIS” which means “God be with us as he was with our fathers."
Under the image and centered are three lines of text. They read as:
Bostonia is Boston in Latin. Condita has a few different meanings, but in this instance should be interpreted as founded. Sixteen thirty is the year that the first permanent settlement of people from Europe took hold in what is now known as Boston.
Underneath these three lines of text is another line of Latin that follows the curve of the bottom of the circle stretching from the middle left to the middle right. This line of text states: CIVITATIS REGIMINE DONATA AD. 1822 which means The CITY GOVERNMENT DONATED in 1822.
Around the main circle of the seal is a laurel wreath. A laurel wreath is a round wreath made of connected branches and leaves of the bay laurel, an aromatic broadleaf evergreen. It is a symbol of triumph and is worn around the head, or as a garland around the neck. It has two branches which are tied together at the bottom center by a ribbon and then each extends around its side of the circle. They do not meet at the top of the circle, but rather have one leave at the end of each branch angled towards the other.
Faneuil Hall, owned by the City of Boston, is a unit of Boston National Historical Park. It is preserved through the cooperation of the City of Boston and the National Park Service.
DESCRIPTION: This image shows the symbol of the National Park Service, the arrowhead. An arrowhead is a tip or triangle of stone, usually sharpened, added to an arrow to make it more deadly or to fulfill some special purpose. This arrowhead is shaped like an upside down triangle with a rough semi-circle located at the middle top of the triangle. This arrowhead design was authorized as the official National Park Service symbol on July 20, 1951. The elements included in the arrowhead represent the different types of National Park sites in the agency. The elements of the emblem symbolize the major facets of the national park system. The Sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water represent scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead represents historical and archeological values.
The arrowhead itself is a medium brown color with a darker outline around the edges. The upper part of the arrowhead does not have any images on it. Starting just below the corners of the arrowhead on the right side and written in white lettering is National Park Service on three descending lines. Below it is an image of a brown mountain, topped with white to represent the snow. The mountain crosses the width of the arrowhead. On the left side is a green sequoia tree. This is shown with a straight trunk with clusters of leaves on branches that extend out from that trunk. At the base of the tree is a green area to represent grass and evergreen or pine trees. The right side of this green area has a small white lake on the edge of the arrowhead.
Located in the middle of the green area is a bison, the official mammal of the United States. A bison is a large, land mammal that has a very large head with small eyes and ears which is surrounded by a large amount of shaggy fur. Their bodies are shaped like a large triangle with a hump where the top point would be.
All floors of Faneuil Hall, including the Visitor Center, are wheelchair accessible. In the lower level of the building, there is a seventeen minute film talking about the Underground Railroad in Boston with audio description. The Freedom Trail and Black Heritage Trail brochures have been audio described and are available on our website. We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For more information about our services, please ask a ranger, call, or check on our website.
Boston National Historical Park is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit www.nps.gov.
PHONE: (617) 242-5642