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, the building was begun in Dock Square in September of the same year. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Friday in early August 1890, one of the first black Republican legislators Julius Caesar Chappelle (1852-1904) of Boston, Massachusetts made a "At the Cradle of Liberty" speech in support of the Federal Elections bill that would help give blacks the right to vote. (Julius Caesar Chappelle was a Boston, Massachusetts legislator from 1883-1886. The Republican Party was founded by abolitionists). The Faneuil Hall event was covered by the media in the United States, and the speech by Julius Caesar Chappelle appeared in an August 9, 1890 article, "At the Cradle of Liberty, Enthusiastic Endorsement of the Elections Bill, Faneuil Hall again Filled with Liberty Loving Bostonians to Urge a Free Ballot and Fare Count..." on the front page of The New York Age newspaper on Saturday, August 9, 1890. 
On November 6, 1979, Faneuil Hall was the site of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's speech declaring his candidacy for president. On November 3, 2004, Faneuil Hall was the site of SenatorJohn 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. 
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/. 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.
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.
Grasshopper weather vane
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. 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.
Public art and landscape artwork
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 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.
Art within Faneuil Hall includes many paintings and sculpture busts of Revolutionary War activists, pre Civil War abolitionists, and political leaders.
Timeline of events
1761 - Building burns down
1762 - Hall rebuilt
December 3 - Meeting about tea lately arrived on the ship Eleanor; Capt. James Bruce, Samuel Adams, Jonathan Williams, and others present
1806—Building remodelled and expanded by Charles Bulfinch
May 26 - After arrest of Anthony Burns, public meeting "to secure justice for a man claimed as a slave by a Virginia kidnapper, and imprisoned in Boston Court House, in defiance of the laws of Massachusetts."
Friday, early August - Julius Caesar Chappelle, Republican legislator of Boston, MA (1883-1886), one of the first black legislators in the United States, makes a speech (endorsing the Federal Elections bill that would help give blacks the right to vote) that was printed in The New York Age newspaper's front page article, "At the Cradle of Liberty" on August 9, 1890. 
^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
^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
^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
^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
^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
^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
^Parks for the people: Proceedings of a public meeting held at Faneuil hall, June 7, 1876. Boston: Franklin press: Rand, Avery, & co., 1876
^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
^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
^“At the Cradle of Liberty,” The New York Age, front page, Saturday, August 9, 1890.
^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