Faneuil Hall

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Faneuil Hall
Faneuil Hall today, east side
LocationBoston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°21′35.86″N 71°3′24.31″W / 42.3599611°N 71.0567528°W / 42.3599611; -71.0567528Coordinates: 42°21′35.86″N 71°3′24.31″W / 42.3599611°N 71.0567528°W / 42.3599611; -71.0567528
ArchitectJohn Smibert; Charles Bulfinch
Architectural styleGeorgian
Governing bodyLocal
NRHP Reference #66000368[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966
Designated NHLOctober 9, 1960
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Faneuil Hall
Faneuil Hall today, east side
LocationBoston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°21′35.86″N 71°3′24.31″W / 42.3599611°N 71.0567528°W / 42.3599611; -71.0567528Coordinates: 42°21′35.86″N 71°3′24.31″W / 42.3599611°N 71.0567528°W / 42.3599611; -71.0567528
ArchitectJohn Smibert; Charles Bulfinch
Architectural styleGeorgian
Governing bodyLocal
NRHP Reference #66000368[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966
Designated NHLOctober 9, 1960

Faneuil Hall (/ˈfænjəl/ or /ˈfænəl/; previously /ˈfʌnəl/), located near the waterfront and today's Government Center, in Boston, Massachusetts, has been a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742. It was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others encouraging independence from Great Britain. Now it is part of Boston National Historical Park and a well-known stop on the Freedom Trail. It is sometimes referred to as "the Cradle of Liberty".[2]

In 2008, Faneuil Hall was rated number 4 in America's 25 Most Visited Tourist Sites by Forbes Traveler.[3]


Faneuil Hall sign, Boston, Mass

18th century[edit]

After the project of erecting a public market house in Boston had been discussed for some years, merchant Peter Faneuil offered, at a public meeting in 1740, to build a suitable edifice at his own cost as a gift to the town. There was a strong opposition to market houses, and although a vote of thanks was passed unanimously, his offer was accepted by a majority of only seven. Funded in part by profits from slave trading,[4] the building was begun in Dock Square in September of the same year.[5] It was built by artist John Smibert in 1740–1742 in the style of an English country market, with an open ground floor serving as the market house, and an assembly room above. According to Sean Hennessey, a National Park Service spokesman, some of Boston's early slave auctions were located near Faneuil Hall.[6]

The grasshopper weather vane on top of the hall is a well known symbol of Boston; see the section "Grasshopper weather vane," below. Knowledge of the grasshopper was used as a shibboleth during the Revolution period. The people would ask suspected spies to identity the object on the top of Faneuil Hall; if they answered correctly, then they were free; if not, they were convicted as British spies.[citation needed]

Faneuil Hall in 1830
Faneuil Hall, photograph dated 1903

In 1761 the hall was destroyed by fire, nothing but the brick walls remaining. It was rebuilt by the town in 1762. In 1775, during the British occupation of Boston, it was used for a theatre.[5]

19th century[edit]

In 1805, the hall was greatly expanded by Charles Bulfinch, doubling its height and width and adding a third floor. Four new bays were added, to make seven in all; the open arcades were enclosed, and the cupola was moved to the opposite 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 of noncombustible materials in 1898–1899.

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

On October 9, 1960 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places a number of years later.[7] The ground floor and basement were altered in 1979. The Hall was restored again in 1992.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace[edit]

Faneuil Hall is now part of a larger festival marketplace, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which includes three long granite buildings called North Market, Quincy Market, and South Market, and which now operates as an indoor/outdoor mall and food eatery. It was designed by Benjamin Thompson and Associates and managed by The Rouse Company; its success in the late 1970s led to the emergence of similar marketplaces in other U.S. cities.

Uses of Faneuil Hall[edit]

On November 6, 1979, Faneuil Hall was the site of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's speech declaring his candidacy for president.[8] On November 3, 2004, Faneuil Hall was the site of Senator John Kerry's concession speech in the 2004 presidential election.

On April 11, 2006, Governor Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts' historic healthcare into law with a fife and drum band in Faneuil Hall before 300 ticketed guests. [9]

On October 30, 2013, President Barack Obama delivered a defense of the Affordable Care Act from the same spot where Governor Mitt Romney signed his state's expansion of healthcare in 2006. [10]

The Headquarters of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts has been in Faneuil Hall since 1746, currently on the 4th floor.

Faneuil Hall is the home of the Boston Classical Orchestra, a professional orchestra, which has been performing in the "Great Hall" there regularly since 1980.

It is also still used for political debates between Massachusetts candidates as well as political shows, such as The O'Reilly Factor.


Though Faneuil is a French name, it is anglicized as /ˈfænəl/ or /ˈfænjəl/.[11] There is some evidence that it was pronounced quite differently in Colonial times, as in funnel. Peter Faneuil's gravestone is marked "P. Funel," although the inscription was added long after his burial. (The stone originally displayed only the Faneuil family crest, not his surname.)

Boston area locals will often use the term "Faneuil Hall" or "Fanueil" to refer to the entire surrounding neighborhood, particularly as a landmark for its vibrant nightlife.

Building elements[edit]


The bell was repaired in 2007 by spraying the frozen clapper with WD-40 over the course of a week and attaching a rope. Prior to this repair, the last known ringing of the bell with its clapper was at the end of World War II, in 1945, though it had since been rung several times by striking with a mallet.[12]

Grasshopper weather vane[edit]

The gilded grasshopper weather vane atop Faneuil Hall
Firemen washing the grasshopper, 19th century

The gilded grasshopper weather vane on top of the building was created by Deacon Shem Drowne in 1742. Gilded with a gold leaf, the copper weather vane weighs eighty pounds and is four feet long.[13] The weather vane is believed to be modeled after the grasshopper weather vane on the London Royal Exchange, based upon the family crest of Thomas Gresham.[14][15]

Public Art and Landscape Artwork[edit]

The area between the eastern end of Faneuil Hall and Congress Street is part of Boston National Historical Park. In this landscape is a 19th-century sculpture of Samuel Adams[16] created by sculptor and poet Anne Whitney. The granite plaza surface is marked for 850 feet with the approximate location of the early Colonial shoreline c. 1630. The street layout and building plot plan designations from an 1820 map are shown by etched dashed lines and changes from pink granite to grey granite paving slabs. The shoreline marking artwork entitled, A Once and Future Shoreline, is made with etched silhouettes of seaweed, sea grass, fish, shells and other materials found along a high tide line.[17]

Art within Faneuil Hall includes many paintings and sculpture busts of Revolutionary War activists, pre Civil War abolitionists, and political leaders.[18]

Timeline of events[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ Faneuil Hall Boston, the Cradle of Liberty
  3. ^ Baedeker, Rob (2008-05-05). "America's 25 Most Visited Tourist Sites". Forbes Traveler. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  4. ^ Fanueil Hall was built with slave money
  5. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Faneuil, Peter". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 
  6. ^ Unearthing Boston's past
  7. ^
  8. ^ PBS Carter Administration Timelilne
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ That is, rhyming with panel or Daniel.
  12. ^ Viser, Matt (2007-05-04). "It tolls for the city". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  13. ^ "Grasshopper Weather Vane on Faneuil Hall Is Stolen". New York Times. January 6, 1974. p. 54. 
  14. ^ "Faneuil Hall Grasshopper". Celebrate Boston. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  15. ^ Unsworth, Tania (February 26, 1996). "Playing Tourist At Home". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  16. ^ Sam Adams Sculpture
  17. ^ A Once and Future Shoreline
  18. ^ Art in Faneuil Hall, Boston National Historical Park Brochure
  19. ^ Snow. History of Boston. 1828; p.293-294
  20. ^ Daniel Webster. A discourse in commemoration of the lives and services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, delivered in Faneuil Hall, Boston, August 2, 1826. Boston: Cummings, Hilliard, and Company, 1826
  21. ^ Timothy Fuller. An oration, delivered at Faneuil Hall, Boston, July 11, 1831: at the request of the Suffolk Anti-Masonic Committee. 1831
  22. ^ Edward Everett. Eulogy on Lafayette: delivered in Faneuil hall, at the request of the young men of Boston, September 6, 1834. Boston: N. Hale, 1834
  23. ^ The freedom speech of Wendell Phillips: Faneuil Hall, December 8, 1837, with descriptive letters from eye witnesses. Boston: Wendell Phillips Hall Association, 1890
  24. ^ First Exhibition and Fair of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association. 1837
  25. ^ Remarks of the Hon. Peleg Sprague at Faneuil Hall: before the citizens of Boston and its vicinity, upon the character and services of Gen. William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, the Whig candidate for the presidency of the United States. Boston: Whig Republican Assoc., 1839
  26. ^ Charles Francis Adams. An oration, delivered before the City Council and citizens of Boston, in Faneuil Hall, on the sixty-seventh anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: July 4th, 1843. Boston: J. H. Eastburn, City printer, 1843
  27. ^ Edward Everett. A eulogy on the life and character of John Quincy Adams: delivered at the request of the legislature of Massachusetts, in Faneuil hall, April 15, 1848. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, state printers, 1848
  28. ^ Boston slave riot, and trial of Anthony Burns: Containing the report of the Faneuil Hall meeting, the murder of Batchelder, Theodore Parker's Lesson for the day, speeches of counsel on both sides, corrected by themselves, a verbatim report of Judge Loring's decision, and detailed account of the embarkation. Boston: Fetridge and Co., 1854
  29. ^ Speech of Gen. A. J. Hamilton, of Texas, at the war meeting at Faneuil hall, Saturday evening, April 18, 1863. Boston: Press of T. R. Marvin & son, 1863
  30. ^ Savannah and Boston: account of the supplies sent to Savannah ; with the Last appeal of Edward Everett in Faneuil Hall ; The letter to the mayor of Savannah ; and, The proceedings of the citizens, and letter of the mayor of Savannah. Boston: J. Wilson, 1865
  31. ^ Parks for the people: Proceedings of a public meeting held at Faneuil hall, June 7, 1876. Boston: Franklin press: Rand, Avery, & co., 1876
  32. ^ Proceedings of the indignation meeting held in Faneuil Hall, Thursday evening, August 1, 1878: to protest against the injury done to the freedom of the press by the conviction and imprisonment of Ezra H. Heywood. B.R. Tucker, 1878
  33. ^ Eben Norton Horsford. Discovery of America by Northmen: address at the unveiling of the statue of Leif Eriksen, delivered in Faneuil Hall, Oct. 29, 1887. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1888
  34. ^ Socialism: a speech delivered in Faneuil hall, February 7th, 1903, by Frederic J. Stimson ... in joint debate with James F. Carey. Boston: The Old Corner Book Store, Inc., 1903
  35. ^ Mass meetings of protest against the suppression of truth about the Philippines, Faneuil hall, Thursday, March 19, 1903.
  36. ^ "Grasshopper Weather Vane on Faneuil Hall Is Stolen". New York Times. January 6, 1974. p. 54.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Site of the Boston Massacre
Locations along Boston's Freedom Trail
Faneuil Hall
Succeeded by
Paul Revere House