|Photography by Andrew Moore, Courtesy of|
the Public Design Commission of the City of New York.
Tours are available on weekdays and are offered free of charge. To make a reservation, please fill out this online form or call 311.
To prepare for your visit, please view the Pre-visit Guide
Constructed from 1803 to 1812, New York’s City Hall is one of the oldest continuously used city halls in the nation and one of the finest architectural achievements of its period. As New York City’s third city hall, it was built to accommodate a growing municipal government. Its design was the result of a competition held in 1802.
The winning team of Joseph François Mangin (fl. 1794-1818), a French émigré, and John McComb, Jr. (1763-1853), a New Yorker, designed the building in the Federal style with French influences, such as the five large arched windows and delicate ornamental swags. City Hall is a designated New York City landmark, and its soaring rotunda, topped by a coffered dome and encircled by a keystone-cantilevered staircase, is an interior landmark.
In 2010, the Bloomberg Administration launched a rehabilitation project to correct structural issues and preserve the historic building. In addition, the project included the installation of a new fire safety system, an energy efficient heating and cooling system, and new electrical service in order to bring the building up to 21st-century standards. Through the generous support of private donors, the City was also able to restore the building’s murals, decorative elements, and historic finishes as part of this effort.
Restored in 2011 as part of the rehabilitation project, the City Council Chamber, located on the east side of the second floor, is used for public meetings and ceremonial events. Originally two courtrooms, the chamber was reconfigured in 1897 under the direction of architect John H. Duncan, who also installed the wood paneling, the horseshoe-shaped gallery, the ceiling’s decorative plaster, and the bas-reliefs by John Massey Rhind. In 1903, the ceiling was completed with a mural series by Taber Sears and assistants George W. Breck and Frederick C. Martin under the direction of architect William Martin Aiken.
The City Hall portrait collection is considered one of the outstanding groups of portraits by American artists in the United States. An integral and historical component of the interiors of City Hall, it includes more than 100 important paintings of United States presidents, New York State governors, New York City mayors, foreign dignitaries, military and naval heroes, and political leaders who worked in City Hall or visited New York City. Represented in the collection are some of the leading late-18th- to mid-19th-century American artists, such as Thomas Sully, John Trumbull, John Vanderlyn, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, and Anna Lea Merritt.
In 2006, under the direction of the Design Commission, a comprehensive portrait conservation strategy was implemented in partnership with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. This privately funded project preserved the collection as part of our cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy.
Many of City Hall’s most significant portraits are displayed in the Governor’s Room, a reception space and gallery on the second floor that features historic furnishings and notable objects, including pieces by Charles Christian and Honoré Lannuier as well as George Washington’s writing desk. A number of distinguished guests have visited the Governor’s Room, including the Marquis de Lafayette, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The room’s 2001-2002 restoration included a new temperature and humidity control system and a color palette inspired by historic research that indicated the room was originally decorated in a scheme of red and green with the walls of one side chamber specifically “French green.”
The largest room in City Hall, the Bullpen, located on the west side of the second floor, has served as a courtroom, a space for large celebrations, and a meeting room for both the Board of Aldermen (now known as the City Council) and the Board of Estimate. In 2002, Mayor Bloomberg turned the room into an open-plan work space, where he works surrounded by his staff.