It is impossible to see the attached video about excavating NYC’s City Hall Park and not thrill to the dense history of the area encompassing City Hall Park and its centerpiece City Hall itself.
The building that is now City Hall is the third incarnation of a building fulfilling the purpose of housing the Mayor and City Councillors and all those who work with them to ensure good governance of the City as a whole. The first was in Pearl st and nothing of it remains. The second building has also been demolished but the site remains with the old Customs House now transformed into the Federal Hall National Memorial because the original, demolished building was where George Washington was inaugerated and the building itself housed the government of the United States of America until it removed to Washington.
The present City Hall is much larger and more substantial than eitheer of its predecessors and was built in 1811. It is located in Lower Manhattan in City Hall Park bounded by Broadway, Park Row and Chamkbers st. Public tours are available Mon-Thurs are different times for different types of groups. Go to NYC City Hall Tours for details of when tours are offered and to whom.
Historically, the Governor’s Room, the room where all visitng dignitaries are welcomed and given a reception, was the room where President elect Abraham Lincoln was welcomed in 1861. In 1865 the building itself was where his coffin was housed, under the rotunda, when he lay in state after his assassination. A similiar honor was conferred on General Ulysses S Grant after he died.
The building hoses numerous historical artifacts including George Washington’s desk. As well there are also 108 paintings spread through the building from the late 18th Century through to the 20th Century, the most signficant collection of painting related to civic leaders and histrically important New Yorkers such as Alexander Hamilton in the nation.
Today the building houses all the City’s significant civic spaces, such as the Governor’s room, the Mayor’s Office, the Blue Room (for press conferences), the Chamber of the Board of Councilmen, the City Hall Marriage Bureau, (see video) and various rooms where New Yorkers pay taxes and fines and gain information about various city projects.
City Hall is above all the bustlinhg heart of City Government, the proud successor of the first beginnigns of Manhattan’s self governeing tradition from early in the 18th Century.