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Boston – Freedom Trail: Faneuil Hall
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Image by wallyg
Faneuil Hall, sometimes known as "the Cradle of Liberty", is a well known stop along the Freedom Trail.

The original Hall was built by artist John Smibert in 1740–1742 in the style of an English country market, with an open ground floor and an assembly room above. Funded by a wealthy Boston merchant, Peter Faneuil, its creation was not without controversy. Bostonians had long rejected the idea of a centralized market. A previous attempt was destroyed by an angry mob. By a vote of 367 to 360, the Boston Town Meeting accepted Faneuil’s offer. Fanueil died shortly after the building in 1748, shortly after the building was completed and the new hall’s first public gathering was on the occasion of his eulogy on March 14, 1748.

The 38-pound, 52-inch gilded grasshopper weathervane on top of the building was created by silversmith Shem Drowne in 1742 and was modeled on the grasshopper weathervane on the London Royal Exchange.

Almost destroyed by fire on January 18, 1761, Faneuil Hall was rebuilt, with funds raised by state lottery, and re-opened in 1763 with James Otis Jr‘s dedication address in the cause of liberty. The hall was the scene of many of the pre-Revolutionary period’s great public meetings and speeches. On March 6, 1770 following the Boston Massacre, the first public meeting was held as witnesses described the events and Samuel Adams gave an impassioned speech. In 1772, the first Committee of Correspondence was established here by a motion by Samuel Adams, which Loyalists pointed to as the origin of the Revolution. On November 29, 1773, the first meeting in protest of the imposed tea tax took place. Because of limited space for the crowds, meetings were often moved to the Old South Meeting House. During the occupation of Boston in 1774, the hall was used as a theatre for British officers.

By 1806, Smibert’s Faneuil Hall was no longer large enough to serve the city. Charles Bulfinch, who had already completed the new State House, was chosen to expand the building. He doubled the height and width, but managed to keep intact the walls from the earlier building. Four new bays were added, to make seven in all; a third floor was added; the open arcades were enclosed; and the cupola was centered and moved to the east end of the building. Bulfinch applied Doric brick pilasters to the lower two floors, with Ionic pilasters on the third floor. This renovation added galleries around the assembly hall and increased its height. The building was entirely rebuilt in 1898–1899, of noncombustible materials. The building underwent a major internal renovation during the 1970’s.

Fanueil Hall is now part of the larger Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which includes three long granite buildings called North Market, Quincy Market, and South Market. Its success in the late 1970s led to the emergence of similar marketplaces in other U.S. cities. Inside the Hall are dozens of paintings of famous Americans, including the mural of Webster’s Reply to Hayne and Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of Washington at Dorchester Heights. The first floor operates as a market, while the second floor is taken up by the Great Hall, where Boston’s town meetings were once held. The third floor houses the museum and armory of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. Founded in 1638, this is the oldest military company in the US, and considered the third oldest in the world.

In recent history, Faneuil Hall was the home to President John F. Kennedy’s last campaign speech and Senator John Kerry’s concession speech in the 2004 presidential election.

The Marketplace fronted by Miss Anne Whitney’s Samuel Adams statue on Congress Street.

In 2007, Faneuil Hall Marketplace was ranked #64 on the AIA 150 America’s Favorite Architecture list.

National Historic Register #66000368

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