Having explored the surrounding environment, we will now enter the City Hall itself. It is open to visitors.
Ascending the steps, the visitor finds himself in a central rotunda, with curving stairs leading to a circular gallery on the second floor. In this gallery, on the north side stands a statue of Thomas Jefferson. On the south side, opposite the stairs, is the entrance to the Governor's Room, now held ready for the Governor of the State when he visits New York.
The furniture in these rooms, of solid mahogany, consists of the original chairs and tables used in the old Federal Building at Wall and Nassau Streets. Through a donation of Mrs. Russell Sage in 1909 and Mr. George McAneny, with subsequent gifts amounting altogether to $65,000, these rooms have been restored to their original serene and simple dignity. The few ornaments, clocks, candlesticks, etc., on the mantel shelves, while not historically associated with City Hall, have been sought out with much pains and are strictly of the correct period and appropriate in style. One of the valued relics here shown is a portion of a limb of Peter Stuyvesant's pear tree.
The building possesses two desks used by Washington in Federal Hall and is filled with a large number of portraits by Trumbull, Inman, Weir and other well known artists. They are mostly of persons connected with the City or State of New York, Mayors of New York, Governors, etc., also a goodly representation of historic characters not necessarily New Yorkers.
The attendant in the Governor's room has been in charge many years and takes great pleasure in explaining all the attractions of the building to those who express an interest in them.
The present City Hall is the third building erected by the city (1812) for the administration of the municipal affairs. The first was the Stadt Huys, at the corner of Pearl Street and Coenties Slip, erected by the Dutch originally and continued by the English. It was demolished in 1700 and the new building at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets took its place. It was succeeded by the one we are now visiting (1812).
Almost every important happening of an official character takes place at the City Hall and the list of its famous receptions is a very long one. Nearly every big visitor to the United States lands here first, from Lafayette to the distinguished returning soldiers, who are here decorated by the Mayor in the presence of notables and the public; so it makes history all the time. Gen'l Pershing and King Albert were among the latest.
The offices of the Mayor and the Borough President are still maintained in the City Hall, but the great army of clerks required to conduct the city's business are housed in an entirely different building. When it is remembered that eighty-five thousand persons are on the city's permanent pay roll and that this number some-times is increased to one hundred and twenty thousand temporarily, it will be readily seen that the city's needs have tremendously outgrown the office facilities provided for it in 1812.
There are many other interesting things to see in the City Hall which, for lack of space, we are unable to enumerate here, such as the punch bowl used at the Erie Canal celebration and various other old mementoes of the city's past.
Outside the building is a tablet recording the fact that the Declaration of Independence was read to the Continental Army here, July 9th, 1776, General Washington being present.
Another tablet brings us sharply to more prosaic things by marking the spot where ground was first broken in the construction of the subway. The statue of Nathan Hale by MacMonnies is one of our most cherished possessions and is well worth a visit by any one at all interested in that splendid character.
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