Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is a building in New York City built in 1902–1907 by the federal government to house the duty collection operations for the Port of New York. It is located at 1 Bowling Green, near the southern tip of Manhattan, roughly on the same spot as Fort Amsterdam, the original center of the settlement of New Amsterdam, and Government House, the mansion built as an official residence for the President of the United States, but which was never occupied. The Custom House was named to commemorate Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and its first Secretary of the Treasury.

The building is now the home of the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York; since 2012, it is also the home to the National Archives at New York City.

U.S. Custom House
Alexander Hamilton U-S Custom House 001-002 combined
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is located in Manhattan
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is located in New York
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is located in the United States
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
Location1 Bowling Green
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°42′15″N 74°00′50″W / 40.704294°N 74.013773°WCoordinates: 40°42′15″N 74°00′50″W / 40.704294°N 74.013773°W
ArchitectCass Gilbert, Daniel Chester French
Architectural styleBeaux-Arts
NRHP reference #72000889[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 31, 1972
Designated NHLDecember 8, 1976[1]


100 Years of Grandeur: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York, New York (2007)[2]

The building was designed by Minnesotan Cass Gilbert, who later designed the Woolworth Building, which is visible from the building's front steps. The selection of Gilbert to design the building was marked with controversy. Until 1893, federal office buildings were designed by government architects under the Office of the Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury. In 1893, the Tarsney Act permitted the Supervising Architect to hire private architects following a competition. The Supervising Architect James Knox Taylor picked Gilbert, who earlier had been his partner at the Gilbert & Taylor architecture firm in St. Paul, Minnesota. The controversy never quite blew over, and in 1913, the Tarsney Act was repealed.[3]

Constructed between 1902 and 1907, the building is considered to be a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style, where public transactions were conducted under a noble Roman dome. It incorporates Beaux Arts and City Beautiful movement planning principles, combining architecture, engineering, and fine arts. Lavish sculptures, paintings, and decorations by well-known artists of the time, such as Daniel Chester French, Karl Bitter, Louis St. Gaudens and Albert Jaegers, embellish the facade, the two-story entry portico, the main hall parallel to the facade, the Rotunda, and the Collector's Reception Room.

Sculpture was so crucial to the scheme that the figure groups had independent contracts. The major work across the front steps, The Continents, also called the Four Continents, of Asia, America, Europe, and Africa, was contracted to French, with associate Adolph A. Weinman.[4] Above the main cornice are standing sculptures representing the great seafaring nations, representing American seagoing commerce as the modern heir of the Phoenicians.

In 1937, during the Great Depression, the Treasury Relief Art Project (with funds and assistance from the Works Projects Administration) commissioned a cycle of murals for the main rotunda from Reginald Marsh.[5][6]:62–63

The building sits on the site of Fort Amsterdam, the fortification constructed by the Dutch West India Company to defend their operations in the Hudson Valley. The fort became the nucleus of the New Amsterdam settlement, and in turn, of New York City. From 1799 to 1815, the first Custom House at this site was the Government House.[7]

US Customs House New York of to-day. (1912) (14782617492)
The Customs House in 1912

Historic preservation

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, for both its exterior and public interior spaces. The Custom House was one of the earliest designations of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 1987, the completion of its preservation, spurred by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who saved the building from demolition in 1979, attracted much public attention. Exterior and ceremonial interior spaces were cleaned, restored, and conserved, while old office space was renovated for Federal courtrooms and ancillary offices, rental offices and meeting rooms, and for a 350-seat auditorium with state-of-the-art projection facilities. Upgrades of fire safety, security, telecommunications, and heating, air conditioning, and ventilating systems accompanied alterations.[1] In 1990, Moynihan sponsored the law that renamed the building after Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury.[8]

The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.[1][9][10]


George Gustav Heye Center Roof 2


Alexander Hamilton Custom House Collector's Room ceiling (40511s)

Ornate ceiling in the Collector's Office

Alexander Hamilton Custom House Collector's Room panels (40521s)

Carvings in wooden wall panels in the Collector's Office

Rotunda murals


Rotunda mural cycle by Reginald Marsh (1937)


From left: Explorer Hudson, SS Washington Passing Ambrose Lightship, Explorer Block

Mural, fresco by Reginald Marsh (ship, man climbing aboard) at New York City Customs House - NARA - 195817

Picking Up the Pilot


From left: Explorer Verrazano, Coast Guard Cutter Calumet Meeting the SS Washington, Explorer Columbus


Customs Officials Boarding Liner


Passing the Statue of Liberty


The Press Interviewing a Celebrity


Unloading Cargo

See also



  1. ^ a b c d "United States Custom House (New York)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-13. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
  2. ^ U.S. General Services Administration (2007). 100 Years of Grandeur: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. New York, New, 17 min. 30 secs.,
  3. ^ Lee, Antoinette J. (April 20, 2000). Architects to the Nation: The Rise and Decline of the Supervising Architect's Office. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512822-2.
  4. ^ van Alfen, Peter. "Monuments, Medals, and Metropolis, part I: Beaux Arts Architecture". Archived from the original on 2014-01-12.
  5. ^ "U.S. Custom House Murals – New York NY". Living New Deal. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  6. ^ O'Connor, Francis V. (Autumn 1969). "The New Deal Art Projects in New York". The American Art Journal. Kennedy Galleries, Inc. 1 (2): 58–79. JSTOR 1593876.
  7. ^ White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (Fifth ed.). p. 13.
  8. ^ Moynihan, Daniel Patrick. "Bill Summary & Status, 101st Congress (1989–1990), S.3046". Library of Congress.
  9. ^ Pitts, Carolyn (August 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: United States Custom House". National Park Service.
  10. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory: United States Custom House--Accompanying photos, exterior and interior". National Park Service. August 1976.

Further reading

  • Durante, Dianne (2007). Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide. New York University Press. has a chapter discussing each of French's Continents in detail.

External links

55 Wall Street

The National City Bank Building at 55 Wall Street between William and Hanover Streets in the Financial District of downtown Manhattan, New York City, was built in 1836–1841 as the Merchants' Exchange, replacing the previous exchange, which had opened in 1827 and burned down in the Great Fire of New York in 1835. The new building was designed by Isaiah Rogers in the Greek Revival style. The United States Custom House moved into the building in 1862 – with the conversion of the building overseen by William A. Potter – and occupied it until 1907, when it moved to the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at 1 Bowling Green.After the Custom House left, James Stillman, president of National City Bank (predecessor bank of Citibank), arranged for his company to buy the building from the government to be their headquarters. Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White was engaged to enlarge the building, including removing the dome, adding four floors and a second colonnade and gutting the interior, the main floor of which McKim redesigned with William S. Richardson (1907-1910). The old main banking hall has been used as a ballroom and event space since 1998, and the remainder of the building is now condominium apartments.55 Wall Street became the new home of National City Bank on December 19, 1908, when the bank moved across the street from 52 Wall Street. Stillman ordered that the building's Ionic colonnade be preserved and that the interior be remodeled to look like the Pantheon in Rome.55 Wall Street served as Citibank's global headquarters from 1908 to 1961, when it moved to the newly completed 399 Park Avenue, one of the earlier migrations by Wall Street commercial and investment banks from downtown to midtown Manhattan. Years after the headquarters move, 55 Wall Street continued as a full service retail branch (still carrying the moniker Branch # 001), as well as a substantial location for private banking operations. The building served as the headquarters for the law firm of Shearman & Sterling, lead counsel for Citibank and the Rockefeller family for decades. The building was sold by Citibank in 1990 to private investors for $69 million. Citibank ended its branch banking presence at 55 Wall Street in 1992. It is currently owned by Cipriani.

Notable people who spent time at 55 Wall Street include President Chester A. Arthur, who worked as a customs collector in the 1870s, and writer Herman Melville, who worked as a customs inspector and wrote part of Moby Dick while working there.

Alexander Hamilton (Fraser)

A bronze statue of Alexander Hamilton by James Earle Fraser, dedicated on May 17, 1923, is found on the south patio (Alexander Hamilton Place, NW) of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C.

Cass Gilbert

Cass Gilbert (November 24, 1859 – May 17, 1934) was a prominent American architect. An early proponent of skyscrapers in works like the Woolworth Building, Gilbert was also responsible for the Saint Louis Art Museum and Public Library; the Minnesota, Arkansas and West Virginia State Capitols; and the United States Supreme Court building. His public buildings in the Beaux Arts style reflect the optimistic American sense that the nation was heir to Greek democracy, Roman law and Renaissance humanism. Gilbert's achievements were recognized in his lifetime; he served as president of the American Institute of Architects in 1908–09.

Gilbert was a conservative who believed architecture should reflect historic traditions and the established social order. His design of the new Supreme Court building (1935), with its classical lines and small size, contrasted sharply with the large federal buildings going up along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which he disliked.Heilbrun says "Gilbert's pioneering buildings injected vitality into skyscraper design, and his 'Gothic skyscraper,' epitomized by the Woolworth Building, profoundly influenced architects during the first decades of the twentieth century." Christen and Flanders note that his reputation among architectural critics went into eclipse during the age of modernism, but has since rebounded because of "respect for the integrity and classic beauty of his masterworks".

Cunard Building (New York City)

The Cunard Building, also known as the Standard & Poors Building, is located at 25 Broadway in Lower Manhattan's Financial District. It opened as a 22-story office building on May 2, 1921, and its first floor interior was designated a New York City landmark in September 1995. Its ticketing hall is currently operated by Cipriani S.A. as an event space.

Fort Amsterdam

Fort Amsterdam (subsequently named Fort James, Fort Willem Hendrick, Fort James (again), Fort William Henry, Fort Anne and Fort George) was a fort on the southern tip of Manhattan. It was the administrative headquarters for the Dutch and then English/British rule of New York from 1625 or 1626, until being torn down in 1790 after the American Revolution.

The fort changed hands eight times in various battles including the Battle of Long Island in the American Revolution, when volleys were exchanged between the fort and British emplacements on Governor's Island.

The construction of the fort marked the official founding date of New York City as recognized by the Seal of New York City. In October 1683 what would become the first session of the New York legislature convened at the fort. Guns at the fort formed the original battery; nearby Battery Park is named for this feature. The fort's site is now occupied by the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, which houses the George Gustav Heye Center, part of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Fort George, New York

Fort George was the name of five forts in what is now the state of New York.The first Fort George was built in 1626 in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and named Fort Amsterdam. The British Army renamed it Fort James in 1664. It was briefly re-occupied by the Dutch from 1673–1674 as Fort Willem Hendrick. The British named the fort Fort William Henry in 1691, Fort Anne or Queen's Fort in 1703, and finally Fort George in 1714. The north side bastions and ramparts were destroyed in the American Revolutionary War in 1776 by the Americans, and finally demolished in 1790. The site is now the location of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Lower Manhattan.

A second Fort George was built by the British in 1755 at Oswego, New York, but it was destroyed by the French commander Louis-Joseph de Montcalm in 1756. The site is now Montcalm Park, bordered by West Schulyer Street, Montcalm Street and West 6th Street.A third Fort George was built in Lake George, New York in 1755. It was destroyed in 1777 and abandoned in 1780. It was located south east of Fort William Henry facing Lake George, in the wooded area within Lake George Battlefield Park).A fourth Fort George was an encampment built on Staten Island around 1777 in the area of St. George, Staten Island, likely Fort Hill.The last Fort George was built in 1776 in New York City on Fort George Hill, near the current intersection of Audubon Avenue and West 192nd Street in Upper Manhattan. Briefly named Fort Clinton and finally Fort George, from 1895 to 1914 it was the site of the Fort George Amusement Park, and is now the location of George Washington Educational Campus, formerly George Washington High School. Fort George Hill is also the name of a present-day street in the area. The neighborhood surrounding the hill is called Fort George, and is considered a sub-neighborhood of Washington Heights. It's generally agreed to run from West 181st Street to Dyckman Street east of Broadway to the Harlem River.

Hamiltonian economic program

The Hamiltonian economic program was the set of measures that were proposed by American Founding Father and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in four notable reports and implemented by Congress during George Washington's first administration. These reports outlined a coherent program of national mercantilism government-assisted economic development.

First Report on Public Credit – pertaining to the assumption of federal and state debts and finance of the United States government (1790)

Second Report on Public Credit – pertaining to the establishment of a National Bank (1790)

Report on Manufactures – pertaining to the policies to be followed to encourage manufacturing and industry within the United States (1791)

Report on a Plan for the Further Support of Public Credit - pertaining to how to deal with the system of public credit after Hamilton's resignation, including complete extinguishment of the public debt (1795)

James Knox Taylor

James Knox Taylor (October 11, 1857 – August 27, 1929) was Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1897 to 1912. His name is listed ex officio as supervising architect of hundreds of federal buildings built throughout the United States during the period.

Louis Saint-Gaudens

Louis Saint-Gaudens (January 1, 1854 – March 8, 1913) was a significant American sculptor of the Beaux-Arts generation. He was the brother of renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens; Louis later changed the spelling of his name to St. Gaudens to differentiate himself from his well-known brother.

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present, and future—through partnership with Native people and others. The museum works to support the continuance of culture, traditional values, and transitions in contemporary Native life. It has three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which opened on September 21, 2004, on Fourth Street and Independence Avenue, Southwest; the George Gustav Heye Center, a permanent museum in New York City; and the Cultural Resources Center, a research and collections facility in Suitland, Maryland. The foundations for the present collections were first assembled in the former Museum of the American Indian in New York City, which was established in 1916, and which became part of the Smithsonian in 1990.

Rutgers v. Waddington

Rutgers v. Waddington was a case held in the New York City Mayor's Court in 1784. The case set a precedent for the concept of judicial review .

State Street (Manhattan)

State Street is a short street in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City. It runs from west Whitehall Street as a continuation of Water Street, then turns north at Battery Park to become its eastern border. Passing Pearl and Bridge Streets, it terminates at the northeast corner of the park, at Bowling Green, where the roadway continues north as Broadway and west as Battery Place.

State Street approximates the original waterline of the island before landfill expanded it.

Sylacauga marble

Sylacauga marble, also commonly known as Alabama marble, is a marble that is found in a belt running through Talladega County, Alabama. It is prized for its pure white color and its crystalline structure. The stone is named after the town of Sylacauga, Alabama, which is sometimes called "the Marble City". Sylacauga marble has been called the "world's whitest". Discovered in 1814, it has been mined for over 160 years, and is used for building, sculpture, and industry. The Alabama Legislature passed Act 755 on September 12, 1969, which made this marble the state's official rock.

Treasury Relief Art Project

The Treasury Relief Art Project was a New Deal arts program that commissioned visual artists to provide artistic decoration for existing Federal buildings during the Great Depression in the United States. A project of the United States Department of the Treasury, TRAP was administered by the Section of Painting and Sculpture and funded by the Works Progress Administration, which provided assistants employed through the Federal Art Project. The Treasury Relief Art Project also created murals and sculpture for Public Works Administration housing projects. TRAP was established July 21, 1935, and continued through June 30, 1938.

U.S. Customhouse

U.S. Customhouse or United States Custom House may refer to:

(ordered by U.S. state or U.S. territory, and then by city)

United States Custom House (Nogales, Arizona), listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in Santa Cruz County

United States Customhouse (San Francisco), California

United States Custom House (San Ysidro, California), listed as "U.S. Inspection Station/U.S. Custom House" on the NRHP in San Diego County

United States Customhouse (Denver, Colorado)

United States Customhouse (Savannah, Georgia)

United States Custom House (New Orleans), Louisiana

United States Customhouse (Kennebunkport, Maine)

United States Custom House (Portland, Maine)

United States Custom House (Baltimore, Maryland)

United States Customshouse (Barnstable, Massachusetts)

United States Customhouse (New Bedford, Massachusetts)

U.S. Customs Building (Sweet Grass, Montana), NRHP-listed in Toole County

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York City, New York

United States Customhouse (Niagara Falls, New York)

Robert C. McEwen United States Custom House, Ogdensburg, New York

United States Customhouse (Oswego, New York)

United States Customhouse (Portland, Oregon)

United States Custom House (Philadelphia), listed on the NRHP in Philadelphia County

United States Custom House (Fajardo, Puerto Rico), listed on the NRHP

United States Custom House (Mayagüez, Puerto Rico)

United States Customs House (Ponce, Puerto Rico)

United States Custom House (San Juan, Puerto Rico), listed on the NRHP

United States Customshouse (Providence, Rhode Island)

United States Custom House (Charleston, South Carolina)

United States Customhouse (Houston), Texas

Owen B. Pickett United States Custom House, Norfolk, Virginia

United States Custom House (New York City)

The United States Custom House, sometimes referred to as the New York Custom House, was the place where federal customs duties on imported goods were collected in New York City. It was later superseded by the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House.

Whitehall Street

Whitehall Street is a street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, about four blocks long. The street begins at the southern end of Broadway, at the intersection with Stone Street. Whitehall Street stretches south to the southern end of FDR Drive, adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry's Whitehall Terminal, on landfill beyond the site of Peter Stuyvesant's 17th-century house.

The street is one-way southbound for three blocks from Bowling Green to Pearl Street, and one-way northbound up from the FDR Drive to Pearl Street. The southernmost block, adjacent to the ferry terminal, provides access from FDR Drive to the Battery area.

by county
by city
Other lists
United States
founding events
Secretary of
the Treasury
Military career
Other events
Popular culture

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.