The History of Faneuil Hall
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is actually four great places in one location – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market, all set around a cobblestone promenade where jugglers, magicians and musicians entertain the passers-by. So by all means, stroll, shop, eat, laugh, wander, wonder and explore it all.
- In 1742 Peter Faneuil, Boston’s wealthiest merchant, built Faneuil Hall as a gift to the city.
- The edifice was home to merchants, fishermen, and meat and produce sellers, and provided a platform for the country’s most famous orators. It is where colonists first protested the Sugar Act in 1764 and established the doctrine of “no taxation without representation.”
- Firebrand Samuel Adams rallied the citizens of Boston to the cause of independence from Great Britain in the hallowed Hall, and George Washington toasted the nation there on its first birthday.
- Through the years, Faneuil Hall has played host to many impassioned speakers, from Oliver Wendall Holmes and Susan B. Anthony to Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, always living up to its nickname, “The Cradle of Liberty.”
To better accommodate the merchants and shoppers, Faneuil Hall was expanded in 1826 to include Quincy Market, which was designed in the then-popular Greek Revival style and later dubbed for Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy.
- The market remained a vital business hub throughout the 1800’s; but by the mid-1900’s, the buildings had fallen into disrepair and many stood empty.
- The once-thriving marketplace was tagged for demolition until a committed group of Bostonians sought to preserve it in the early 1970’s.
- Through the vision of Jim Rouse, architect Benjamin Thompson and Mayor Kevin White, the dilapidated structures were revitalized, thoroughly changing the face of downtown Boston.
- The 1976 renovation was the first urban renewal project of its kind, one that spawned imitations in this country and abroad.
Today, what is known as Faneuil Hall Marketplace is still Boston’s central meeting place, offering visitors and residents alike an unparalleled urban marketplace. The unique and burgeoning array of shops, restaurants and outdoor entertainment have made it a premiere urban destination that attracts more than 18 million visitors annually.
Did You Know?
- Faneuil Hall was founded in 1742 by Peter Faneuil as a central marketplace for crops and livestock in downtown Boston. At first there was opposition to the new marketplace from farmers who feared a competitive “buyer’s market” would cut profits.
- The famed “Golden Grasshopper” weathervane was placed atop Faneuil Hall in 1742. From this perch, the grasshopper has witnessed the remarkable growth of the city and over 260 years of American history in the making.
- In 1761, a fire at Faneuil Hall damaged the grasshopper weathervane. Thomas Drowne, a blacksmith and the son of the grasshopper’s creator, repaired the weathervane and inserted a “time capsule” in its stomach. The capsule, which is engraved “Food for the Grasshopper,” includes historical newspapers, coins, and messages from mayors that have been added as the grasshopper has been periodically refurbished.
- As England attempted to impose taxes on the colonies, Faneuil Hall emerged as an important meeting place, hosting the Sons of Liberty as they resisted the taxes and debated the important issues of the day.
- Faneuil Hall used to be waterfront property – in the early 1800’s Bostonians needed more land, so they filled in the harbor, pushing the waterfront back to where it is today.
- Faneuil Hall was expanded to include Quincy Market in 1826, when Boston’s rapid growth necessitated a larger marketplace.
- Durgin Park, the oldest existing restaurant in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, was opened in 1826.
- Faneuil Hall celebrated its 150th birthday in 1976 with major renovations, creating Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The construction was considered America’s most prominent “urban renewal” project, and the Marketplace’s subsequent success has spawned the creation of other similar urban marketplaces in New York, Baltimore, Miami, Washington, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Cardiff, Glasgow, and most recently in Portland, Maine.
- During the 1976 construction, workers discovered Quincy Market’s “Great Dome,” which had been hidden by a false ceiling. The dome has been refurbished and is now visible.
- Faneuil Hall Marketplace originally had five restaurants, three bars, seven delicatessens, and 16 food shops, as well as other shops selling a variety of merchandise.
- Today, there are 49 shops, 18 restaurants and pubs, 35 Colonnade eateries and 44 pushcarts in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It is easily accessible from Boston public transportation, and there are 10,724 parking garage spaces within a two-mile radius of the Marketplace.
- Street performers began performing at Faneuil Hall in the early 1970’s to entertain the construction workers. They have never left, and today, Faneuil Hall is one of the premiere venues for street performing in the world.