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Colonial Landmarks in Lower Manhattan

Learn about New York City's early history at these downtown landmarks

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As New York City developed, it expanded north from what is today referred to as lower Manhattan. The southern portion of Manhattan was dramatically expanded by landfill, and today visitors can uncover much of New York City's early history by visiting these landmarks in Lower Manhattan.

1. African Burial Ground

In 1991, during construction of a new federal office building, the buried remains of over 400 Africans from the city’s colonial period were found here. Photos of the excavation are on display around the site which was declared a National Historic Landmark in February 2006.

African Burial Ground Basics:

  • Address: Duane St. between Broadway and Center Street

2. City Hall Park

Fountain in City Hall Park
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The triangle bordered by Chambers St., Broadway and Park Row once served as the town common. In 1741 participants in a slave uprising were hanged and burned alive here. In 1766 the city erected the first of its 5 liberty poles near Broadway and Murray St. On the evening of July 9th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to General George Washington and the Continental army. A circle etched into the ground at the Southern tip depicts the many uses of the park from the 1600’s until today.

City Hall Park Basics:

  • Location: bordered by Chambers Street, Broadway and Park Row

3. St. Paul's Chapel

St. Paul's Chapel
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Built in 1766 by Trinity Church and known as the “Country Chapel” St. Paul’s is an example of the Georgian architectural style popular in the British colonies. The altar was designed by Washington DC architect Pierre l’Enfant. Under an historic painting of the Great Seal of the United States is the pew used by President Washington during his stay in New York. The arms of King George III hang from the center of the balcony.

St. Paul's Chapel Essentials:

  • Address: 209 Broadway
  • Phone: 212-233-4164

4. Wall Street

Named for the Wall that ran from East to West along the Northern border of the Dutch colony, New Amsterdam, this is one of the oldest streets in the city and one of the first to be paved. The New York Stock Exchange was formed here in 1792 by a group of men who traded stock under a row of Buttonwood trees. At the corner of William Street is the site where the Bank of New York was started by Alexander Hamilton.

5. Federal Hall National Monument

Federal Hall National Monument
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George Washington was administered the oath of office as the first president of the United States of America in 1790 on the balcony of the building that formerly occupied this site. In 1735 the trial and acquittal of John Peter Zenger, a newspaper printer charged with sedition against the king, established freedom of the press in NY. In October 1765 the Stamp Act Congress was held here. The current structure was erected in the 1830s and served as a customs house.

Federal Hall National Memorial Essentials:

  • Address: 26 Wall Street
  • Phone: 212-825-6888

6. Alexander Hamilton's Grave

Alexander Hamilton's Grave
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To the left of the church is a large, white, pyramid shaped monument that marks the grave of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was a student in NY when the American Revolution began. He served as an officer in the Continental army and later as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. Along with James Madison and John Jay, he wrote The Federalist Papers, a series of newspaper articles urging the states to ratify the new constitution. In 1804 Hamilton was killed in Weehawken, New Jersey in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.

Trinity Church Essentials:

  • Address: Broadway at Wall Street
  • Phone: 212-602-0800

7. Bowling Green

Established in 1773, Bowling Green is the oldest park in New York City and is surrounded by the original iron fence erected in the 1760s. After hearing the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776, a crowd made its way down Broadway from the Common, tore down the large equestrian statue of King George III in the center of the park, cut it into pieces and melted them into bullets to be used by the Continental army. The ornaments from the top of the fence were also cut off and melted. The irregular surface left by their removal can still be seen.

Bowling Green Essentials:

  • Location: Broadway and Whitehall Street

8. Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern
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Originally built in 1719 as a private residence for Stephan Delancey it was later sold to Samuel Fraunces who converted it into an Inn and Tavern. Among its famous visitors was Paul Revere who arrived in 1774 to meet with the NY Sons of Liberty. In the tavern’s long room on the second floor (now a part of its museum) General Washington met with and dismissed the officers of the Continental army after the American Revolution (December 1783). The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, admission is $4.

Fraunces Tavern Essentials:

  • Address: 54 Pearl Street
  • Phone: 212-425-1776

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