Public Design Commission of the City of New York
Art Commission of the City of New York
Art Commission of the City of New York
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City Hall Website Pre-Visit Guide



City Hall Sites and the Common
Plan of the city of New York
1 | View Full Image
The present City Hall is one of the oldest continuously used City Halls in the nation that still houses its original governmental function. However, it is the third City Hall for the city of New York and is located at the northern end of City Hall Park-the area known as The Common or The Field, communal land since the time of the Dutch settlers. Other structures that had occupied part of the Common at various times before City Hall included a windmill, almshouses, prisons, soldiers' barracks, Liberty Poles, and privies.


First City Hall
First City Hall
2 | View Full Image
Municipal government in the city began with the Dutch in 1653. For the first City Hall (in Dutch Stadt Huys), a stone tavern (the City Tavern) at 73 Pearl Street was converted to contain meeting space for the two co-mayors and the magistrates who formed the city council.


Second City Hall
Second City Hall
3 | View Full Image
The English built a City Hall in 1699-1700 on Wall Street at the top of Broad. In 1788 the City Hall was extensively renovated and renamed Federal Hall in anticipation of George Washington's inauguration on April 30, 1789 as the first President. New York was thus the capital of the new nation, but only briefly. It was decided after extensive political bargaining to move the capital further south in 1790, temporarily to Philadelphia, while a site on the Potomac River-the future Washington, D.C.-was being constructed.


Third City Hall
Third City Hall
4 | View Full Image
The Common was enclosed with a fence, establishing the boundaries of the present City Hall Park.
The third and present City Hall was built in the park from 1803-12, facing the city that had spread northward from the area of earliest settlement at the southern tip of the island. For a small fee, visitors could climb up into the cupola to gaze at the panorama; except for one or two church steeples, City Hall was the tallest building in New York.


Part I Activities:


1. Trace the route from your school or home to City Hall in Manhattan on the MTA subway map or NYCityMap
 
2. Review the Plan of the city of New York, drawn from the actual survey by Casimir Th. Goerck, and Joseph Fr. Mangin, city surveyors, 1803 and locate the three City Hall sites. 

 



1. Goerck, Casimir. Plan of the city of New York, drawn from actual survey by Casimir Th. Goerck, and Joseph Fr. Mangin, city surveyors. 1803. The Lionel and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

2. Anonymous, The Stadt Huys, 1854, Print. Picture Collection, The Branch Libraries, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

3. Doolittle, Amos after Lacour, Peter, Federal Hall the seat of Congress, 1790, Engraving. I.N. Phelps Stokes Collection Of American Historical Prints, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

4. Hayward, George after Evers, John, View of City Hall Park, Park Theatre, Broadway and Chatham St. etc. 1822, Memoir, prepared at the request of a committee of the Common council of the city of New York…, 1826, Lithograph. I.N. Phelps Stokes Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.