New York City Hall, a beauty in classicism with its touch of Palladio! I studied interior design and architecture many moons ago, but my passion has not wained. New York City Hall is featured prominently in my upcoming book The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin. The cornerstone of City Hall was laid in 1803. Construction was delayed after the City Council objected that the design was too extravagant. Imagine something like that today. In response, architects, McComb and Mangin reduced the size of the building and used brownstone at the rear of the building to lower costs. Labor disputes and an outbreak of yellow fever further slowed construction. The building was not dedicated until 1811, and opened officially in 1812.
Although Mangin and McComb were the original designers, the building has been altered numerous times over the years, by various well known and respected architects:
- 1860: Leopold Eidlitz
- 1898: John H. Duncan
- 1903: William Martin Aiken
- 1907, 1912, 1915, 1917: Grosvenor Atterbury
- 1956: Shreve, Lamb & Harmon
- 1998: Cabrera Barricklo
The steps of City Hall frequently provide a backdrop for political demonstrations and press conferences concerning city politics. The heroine in my book meets the hero on those steps while attending a suffragette rally in 1886.
On the inside, the rotunda is a soaring space with a grand marble stairway rising up to the second floor, where ten fluted Corinthian columns support the coffered dome, which was added in a 1912 restoration by Grosvenor Atterbury. The rotunda has been the site of municipal as well as national events. Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant lay in state there, attracting enormous crowds to pay their respects. City Hall is a designated New York City landmark. It is also listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.
The area around City Hall is commonly referred to as the Civic Center. Most of the neighborhood consists of government offices (city, state and federal), as well as an increasing number of upscale residential dwellings being converted from older commercial structures. Architectural landmarks such as St. Paul’s Chapel, St. Peters Church, the Woolworth Building, Tweed Courthouse, the Manhattan Municipal Building, the Park Row Building, One Police Plaza, and the Brooklyn Bridge surround City Hall. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Law and Order, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Until next time, Gail.
Thank you Wikipedia for the facts and links.
Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released when she’s done revising, I’ll keep you in the know. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.