by Christina Parrella, 10/16/2012
Photo: Will Steacy
260 Broadway, 212-788-2656, Financial District, Manhattan
Opened in 1812, the building in use today is actually New York City's second City Hall. (The original was Federal Hall.) The edifice is historic nevertheless—it's the oldest building of its kind in the nation still serving its original municipal function. Throughout its storied past, the building has hosted its fair share of famous politicians. Among the most notable: Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln stopped at City Hall during an inaugural trip, where he met with officials and, in classic Lincoln fashion, addressed a fascinated crowd from the balcony.
During visits, presidents and dignitaries often stopped by the Governor's Room, whose walls are now decorated with oil portraits of its famous guests. (Those interested in a free tour should read the information on nyc.gov.) That room served as the backdrop for the viewing of Lincoln's body. After the president's assassination in 1865, Lincoln lay in state on the marble staircase landing under the domed rotunda. More than 500,000 people waited in line to view the open casket. Twenty years later, Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln's Union Army commanding general and a two-term president, also lay in state under a black-draped City Hall rotunda, following a funeral procession down Fifth Avenue.