Saving America's Historic Sites
Federal Hall National Memorial
Long a public gathering place for events like the 1929 stock market crash and Armistice Day rallies, as well as a place of respite and reflection after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Federal Hall—a masterpiece of Greek Revival architecture and the site of more than 300 years of government activity—is a touchstone for the founding ideals of American democracy and capitalism. At this location, George Washington took the oath of office, the Bill of Rights was adopted, and the First Federal Congress met.
The sweeping steps and facade on Wall Street were deteriorating and in need of immediate restoration. Also, there was a general lack of public awareness of the importance of this site and its deep ties to American history. Federal Hall receives 200,000 visitors annually. However, that is only one percent of the more than 15 million visitors who pass by the site each year.
The National Trust joined forces with the National Park Service, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, and American Express to restore and revitalize Federal Hall. Throughout 2016, the National Trust—with the help of our local partners—assisted in funding restoration work of the iconic Wall Street facade, coupled with a large‐scale public engagement campaign.
The 1883 statue of George Washington by John Quincy Adams Ward stands on the approximate spot where our first President took the oath of office.
In addition to our efforts to restore the most prominent facade of Federal Hall, the National Trust activated social media, contacted national media, featured special “This Place Matters” branded signage, and hosted special events to draw people into the building. We wanted to invite visitors into the building to explore the site’s history beyond the iconic George Washington statue at the famous entry steps. Our efforts provided New Yorkers and tourists alike the opportunity to connect with the deep history and remarkable architecture of this site in new and creative ways.
- Helped raise funds for the restoration of the iconic Wall Street facade and steps.
- Focused national and local attention on the site through a large‐scale public engagement campaign.
- Motivated as many people as possible to engage with Federal Hall as a vibrant event space and share those experiences on social media and in person.
Federal Hall’s iconic steps have been restored and visitation has doubled during our engagement at this architecturally and historically important site.
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