The NYC Landmarks Project


City Hall (1802-1812)

Designated a National Historic Landmark 1960

City Hall Park

Between Broadway, Park Row and Chambers Street


This is only the third City Hall New York City has ever had and is thought to be the oldest continuously serving city hall in the country. The first one, when New York was still New Amsterdam, was located in a tavern. After the British take-over, the second city hall was built on the site of today's Federal Hall. The third one was to designed to meet the growing needs of the municipal government and was built on what was then the northern edge of the city, near the jail and the almshouse.

The buiding was designed by Joseph-Francois Mangin and John McComb, Jr with Massacushetts marble exterior stonework that deteriorated so much it had to be replaced in the 1950s. Unfortunately, they chose limestone instead of marble. The interior is mostly intact, except for the dome, which had to be replaced after a fire caused by celebratory fireworks destroyed it (the fire alarm bell was in the dome, so help was delayed in coming).

Pay special attention to the collection of 19th century portraits of political and military figures in the Governor's Reception Room, which is considered one of the finest collections in the city and includes a large number of John Trumbull's works, including a 1805 portrait of the famous New York Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, buried nearby in the Trinity Church graveyard.

Fortunately, when New York City outgrew this small hall (it is dwarfed by all the surrounding buildings, even the Tweed Courthouse behind it), they did not tear it down and instead built the Municipal Building nearby to house offices. The Municipal Building is the grey stone behemoth with the gold statue on top that everyone assumes is City Hall.

Because City Hall is landmarked by the city both exterior and interior and because the building is still used as the office of the mayor and houses the City Council Chamber (preserntly being restored), there is public access. Not only that, it is surprisingly easy to get in to. The city offers free tours about twice-monthly and you need only pass through the metal detector at the entrance to City Hall Park. On days when the city council is meeting and when there is some sort of political rally or press-conference on the steps of the building, access is granted to the public at large.

Click any of the thumbnails below to go to the image gallery.