Circle Tours

New York City Hall

The Conservancy was pleased to offer members of its Professional Circle a behind-the-scenes tour of City Hall. The building houses the Mayor, City Council, and the Public Design Commission.

Constructed from 1803 to 1812, New York’s City Hall is one of the oldest continuously used city halls in the nation and one of the finest architectural achievements of its period. The result of a competition held in 1802, the winning team of Joseph François Mangin, a French émigré, and John McComb, Jr., a New Yorker, designed the building in the Federal style with French influences, such as the five large arched windows and delicate ornamental swags.

City Hall is a designated New York City landmark and its soaring rotunda, topped by a coffered dome and encircled by a keystone-cantilevered staircase, is an interior landmark.

Mary Beth Betts, former Director of Research, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, now with the Public Design Commission, led the tour.


If you are interested in a tour of City Hall, please visit the City’s website.

Tourist In Your Own Town #26 – New York City Hall from New York Landmarks Conservancy on Vimeo.

Around 2012 an avalanche of plaster was falling on Members’ desks in the Council Chamber and triggered a major interior and exterior project, the first comprehensive rehabilitation in over fifty years.

In 2013, limestone facades were cleaned and repaired, and wood windows restored, while improvements to the roof and drainage systems will prevent chronic leaking that had caused much of the interior damage. The Council Chamber was brought back to its 1903 period of significance with the plaster ceiling reconstructed, mahogany wainscot restored, and central mural conserved. A new intervention was the state-of-the-art sound system. The rotunda dome was repaired after several decorative rosettes had fallen from the ceiling, and the stability of the elegant circular stair tested and improved. Public spaces were restored, and the basement retrofitted for offices that retain exposed brownstone bearing walls.

Critical upgrades, such as new fire detection and sprinkler systems, conduit and ductwork are cleverly concealed in the historic fabric. A more efficient HVAC system was placed in a newly-excavated sub-cellar. Going underground led to an archaeological dig that uncovered over 20,000 Revolutionary War-era artifacts. A British bayonet, wire eyeglass frames, and numerous coins and pottery shards were catalogued and conserved for future interpretation.

New York City
Department of Design and Construction
A. Ottavino Corporation
Kate Burns Ottavino
Acoustic Dimensions
Ron Eligator
Adams European Contracting
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners
Richard W. Southwick
Chrysalis Archaeological Consultants
Alyssa Loorya
EverGreene Architectural Arts
Jeff Greene
Hill International
Michael J. Brothers
Jablonski Building Conservation, Inc.
Mary Jablonski
Jenkins & Huntington, Inc.
Richard Niezrecki
Lakhani & Jordan Engineers, PC
Harshad Lakhani
Midhattan Woodwork
Plaza Construction
Premiere Restoration Technologies
Mark Schlossberg
Robert Silman Associates
Joseph Tortorella
Rockmore Contracting Corporation
Rolf Jensen & Associates
Timothy R. Costello
Strauss Painting, Inc.
Stuart Lynn Company
Breck Perkins
Susan Brady Lighting Design Studio
Susan Brady
Lauren Yarmuth

Are you interested in joining the Professional Circle?

Throughout the year, Circle tours go behind-the-scenes of some of New York’s most interesting historic properties. Some tours require hard hats to visit projects during restoration, while others showcase completed restorations of commercial buildings, residences, museums, churches, and synagogues. On occasion, conservators, engineers, and craftspeople open their studios to our Circle members.

Click here to join

For more information, contact Jenna Smith at 212.995.5260 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).