Several winters ago while visiting New York during a very chilly January, I accidentally bumped into Federal Hall National Memorial. Somehow, my US History classes didn't take hold in high school, and I'd forgotten that NewYork -- not Washington DC -- was the site of our country's first inaugural ceremony.
Located on Wall Street just across the way from the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall is the location where George Washington took his oath of office as our nation's first president on April 30, 1789. It was also home to the first Congress, Supreme Court and Executive Branch offices.
The original Federal Hall was demolished in 1812, and the current structure (a US Customs House) was constructed 30 years later on the same site. It later served as part of the US Sub-Treasury, and is now a museum and memorial run by the National Park Service. Inside is the Washington Inaugural Gallery that includes models of the original City Hall and Federal Hall, along with pieces of the actual building. The first Inaugural Bible is on display here, also.
Federal Hall National Memorial Guided Tours and Talks
- Welcome to Federal Hall - Indoor Tour - History of the site, construction of the Customs House, establishment of the National Memorial.
- Greek Revival in the New World - Indoor Tour - Architectural highlights of the 1842 Customs House.
- Group Guided Tours - Reservations required for 10 or more (212.668.2899).
- The New York Campaign - Outdoor Tour - Walking lecture of the Battle for New York in 1776 conducted by retired US Army Captain and NPS Park Ranger Michael Callahan
- Colonial New York - Outdoor Tour - Learn about New York City in the 18th century on this NPS Ranger tour of Lower Manhattan.
- George Washington as a Leader - Talk - Traces George Washington's evolution as a military and political leader from the French and Indian War through the American Revolution and the presidency.
- The Battle for New York 1776-1783 - Talk - Covers the New York Campaign and the occupation of New York City by the British for the remainder of the Revolutionary War.