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Incredible pictures show what New York City looked like when it was the capital of the United States — 231 years after George Washington's inauguration

Incredible pictures show what New York City looked like when it was the capital of the United States — 231 years after George Washington's inauguration
Washington D.C. wasn't always the capital of the United States. In fact, after years of fighting with the British for control of the city, the Congress of the Confederation made New York City the national capitol in 1785. It was here that General George Washington would bade farewell to his troops at the end of the Revolutionary War and where he would later be inaugurated as President. Click through to see what the Big Apple looked like when it was home to the President George Washington and the federal government...
Washington D.C. wasn't always the capital of the United States. In fact, after years of fighting with the British for control of the city, the Congress of the Confederation made New York City the national capitol in 1785. It was here that General George Washington would bade farewell to his troops at the end of the Revolutionary War and where he would later be inaugurated as President. Click through to see what the Big Apple looked like when it was home to the President George Washington and the federal government... 
In the early days of the American Revolutionary War, the British set their sights on New York and its surrounding areas, which were already major centers of business. After occupying Staten Island, the Red Coats infiltrated New York to gain its important military harbor and patriots fled. Less than ten years before the city would become the capitol of the new United States of America, New York was swept into a state of panic as a fire burnt through the south western tip of the island, known today as the Financial District and Battery Park City. Many historians (and people of the time) believed the revolutionaries lit the fire that destroyed 10 to 25 percent of the buildings in the city.
In the early days of the American Revolutionary War, the British set their sights on New York and its surrounding areas, which were already major centers of business. After occupying Staten Island, the Red Coats infiltrated New York to gain its important military harbor and patriots fled. Less than ten years before the city would become the capitol of the new United States of America, New York was swept into a state of panic as a fire burnt through the south western tip of the island, known today as the Financial District and Battery Park City. Many historians (and people of the time) believed the revolutionaries lit the fire that destroyed 10 to 25 percent of the buildings in the city. 
Despite the sprawling damage and subsequent years spent under British and loyalist control, when patriots and revolutionaries finally returned to the city, citizens immediately went to work to return the area to its former glory. Pictured, New Yorkers pulling down the equestrian statue of King George III in 1776 located in modern-day Battery Park City.
Despite the sprawling damage and subsequent years spent under British and loyalist control, when patriots and revolutionaries finally returned to the city, citizens immediately went to work to return the area to its former glory. Pictured, New Yorkers pulling down the equestrian statue of King George III in 1776 located in modern-day Battery Park City.
Today, this part of the Manhattan (now called Bowling Green) is home to a beautiful public park where the statue once stood.
Today, this part of the Manhattan (now called Bowling Green) is home to a beautiful public park where the statue once stood. 
On Evacuation Day November 25, 1783, the day the British Army left New York City after the end of the American Revolutionary War, Washington (pictured here on a white horse) led his troops through the city as New Yorkers celebrated in the streets. They marched from Harlem all the way down to lower Manhattan.
On Evacuation Day November 25, 1783, the day the British Army left New York City after the end of the American Revolutionary War, Washington (pictured here on a white horse) led his troops through the city as New Yorkers celebrated in the streets. They marched from Harlem all the way down to lower Manhattan. 
In this illustration of the same day, you can see an American flag flying high in the distance. George Washington refused to return to the city with the Continental Army until two remaining British Union flags were taken down - including one that had been nailed to a flagpole at the Battery in a final act of defiance by the British.
In this illustration of the same day, you can see an American flag flying high in the distance. George Washington refused to return to the city with the Continental Army until two remaining British Union flags were taken down - including one that had been nailed to a flagpole at the Battery in a final act of defiance by the British.
Pictured here, an illustration of the American Flag flying at the Battery.
Pictured here, an illustration of the American Flag flying at the Battery. 
This is what the Battery looks like today.
The Governor of New York held a celebratory dinner at Fraunces Tavern on the evening of Evacuation Day. The soon-to-be president is pictured here hugging a military comrade in the tavern, one of Washington's favorites which also served as a headquarters for Washington during and after the war, as well as the home to federal offices in the Early Republic.
Fraunces Tavern is still operational today. A commemorative plaque outside the restaurant reads: 'After the American Revolutionary War, on December 4, 1783, General George Washington bade an emotional farewell to his officers at a banquet held in the Long Room, located on the second floor of this tavern. Samuel Fraunces, a West Indian innkeeper, was the proprietor; he later became Washington’s chief steward. Fraunces, also an American patriot, was host to secret meetings of the Sons of Liberty and gave aid to American prisoners of war. The present building, purchased by the Sons of the Revolution in 1904, was restored by them on this site and has been maintained by them.'
The restoration and preservation of Fraunces Tavern honored the original facade. The historic building, pictured today, stands out against the Financial District's more modern structures.
The restoration and preservation of Fraunces Tavern honored the original facade. The historic building, pictured today, stands out against the Financial District's more modern structures.  
Washington didn't stay away for long, however. He made his triumphant return to the city from his home in Virginia, Mount Vernon, in 1789 after he was elected the first president of the United States. Although most historical accounts note Washington was extremely wealthy in his own right, it's rumored he had to borrow cash for his journey back to New York City as he was predominantly 'land rich'.
Washington didn't stay away for long, however. He made his triumphant return to the city from his home in Virginia, Mount Vernon, in 1789 after he was elected the first president of the United States. Although most historical accounts note Washington was extremely wealthy in his own right, it's rumored he had to borrow cash for his journey back to New York City as he was predominantly 'land rich'.
Congress rented the Samuel Osgood House located on Cherry Street (modern day Pearl Street) for the nation's first Presidential Mansion. The President-elect moved in with his wife Martha, his two grandchildren and Samuel Fraunces who managed the 20 person household staff.
Congress rented the Samuel Osgood House located on Cherry Street (modern day Pearl Street) for the nation's first Presidential Mansion. The President-elect moved in with his wife Martha, his two grandchildren and Samuel Fraunces who managed the 20 person household staff.
Congress paid $845 per month for the rental on Cherry Street, although Washington felt the residence was too congested and later moved to the to the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway in February 1790. Washington is pictured here with his family based on sketches taken by Edward Savage in the Samuel Osgood House.
Congress paid $845 per month for the rental on Cherry Street, although Washington felt the residence was too congested and later moved to the to the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway in February 1790. Washington is pictured here with his family based on sketches taken by Edward Savage in the Samuel Osgood House.
The home was demolished in 1856, but a bronze plaque marks its former location where Pearl Street crosses under the Brooklyn Bridge.
The home was demolished in 1856, but a bronze plaque marks its former location where Pearl Street crosses under the Brooklyn Bridge.
This illustration shows what the streets of New York most likely looked like to Washington. He made the trip down Broad Street (pictured) from his mansion to Federal Hall many times during the early days of his presidency - including his inauguration day. Federal Hall is the white building in the center of the photograph. The spires belonging to Trinity Church and Saint Paul's Chapel (where the religious president worshipped) are also visible on the left-hand side of the depiction.
This illustration shows what the streets of New York most likely looked like to Washington. He made the trip down Broad Street (pictured) from his mansion to Federal Hall many times during the early days of his presidency - including his inauguration day. Federal Hall is the white building in the center of the photograph. The spires belonging to Trinity Church and Saint Paul's Chapel (where the religious president worshipped) are also visible on the left-hand side of the depiction.
Today, luxury apartment buildings and the New York Stock Exchange conceal the church and chapel spires, but you can still see Federal Hall straight ahead.
Today, luxury apartment buildings and the New York Stock Exchange conceal the church and chapel spires, but you can still see Federal Hall straight ahead. 
The building, pictured in 2019,  was reconstructed in the 1840s but still contains part of the original railing and balcony floor where Washington was inaugurated. In 1882, a bronze statue of George Washington was erected on the front steps, marking the approximate site where the inauguration occurred.
The building, pictured in 2019,  was reconstructed in the 1840s but still contains part of the original railing and balcony floor where Washington was inaugurated. In 1882, a bronze statue of George Washington was erected on the front steps, marking the approximate site where the inauguration occurred.
Back on April 30th, 1789 church bells rang out throughout the city while hundreds of people from around the world waited patiently for George Washington to be inaugurated. The President-elect was escorted to Federal Hall where he took the oath of office on the balcony of the building. The crowds that had gathered on the corner of Broad Street and Wall Street chanted 'Long live George Washington, President of the United States!' Notably, Washington bowed to the crowd before he retreated indoors to deliver his inaugural address.
In his address, the President famously stated: 'And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.'
In his address, the President famously stated: 'And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.'
Immediately after the inauguration, Washington and Congress walked up from Federal Hall to the nearby Saint Paul's Chapel for religious services. Washington, however, was no stranger to St. Paul's or its parent Trinity Church. He attended services at both during his time as a General and President. Pictured, an image depicting Washington amongst other church-goers outside the chapel. Trinity Church's spire can be seen in the background.
Immediately after the inauguration, Washington and Congress walked up from Federal Hall to the nearby Saint Paul's Chapel for religious services. Washington, however, was no stranger to St. Paul's or its parent Trinity Church. He attended services at both during his time as a General and President. Pictured, an image depicting Washington amongst other church-goers outside the chapel. Trinity Church's spire can be seen in the background.
Both buildings remain intact today. In fact, despite St. Paul's being located directly across the street from the World Trade Center, the chapel survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks and inexplicably suffered no damage. It's pictured today with the Freedom Tower and Oculus in the background.
Both buildings remain intact today. In fact, despite St. Paul's being located directly across the street from the World Trade Center, the chapel survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks and inexplicably suffered no damage. It's pictured today with the Freedom Tower and Oculus in the background. 
During his time in New York, Washington visited many different corners of the city. He and the other Founding Fathers, such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who made up the body of the early United States government, spent most of their time in modern day downtown Manhattan, although Alexander Hamilton notably lived uptown in Harlem where he had more room to spread out. He also had an apartment downtown. Pictured here, Hamilton's home Hamilton Grange.
During his time in New York, Washington visited many different corners of the city. He and the other Founding Fathers, such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who made up the body of the early United States government, spent most of their time in modern day downtown Manhattan, although Alexander Hamilton notably lived uptown in Harlem where he had more room to spread out. He also had an apartment downtown. Pictured here, Hamilton's home Hamilton Grange.
The Hamilton Grange is a popular tourist attraction today. The home underwent a $14 million restoration and has since moved to Harlem's St. Nicholas Park.
The Hamilton Grange is a popular tourist attraction today. The home underwent a $14 million restoration and has since moved to Harlem's St. Nicholas Park.
Even in its earliest days, the city had many institutions most New Yorkers would recognize today. In addition to taverns, bars and restaurants, coffee houses were very popular. The Tontine Coffee House, located a few feet up from the East River, is pictured here.
Even in its earliest days, the city had many institutions most New Yorkers would recognize today. In addition to taverns, bars and restaurants, coffee houses were very popular. The Tontine Coffee House, located a few feet up from the East River, is pictured here.
This area of New York is still a bustling spot. Today, the cobblestoned road of Stone Street is lined cafes, restaurants and bars, and sees hundreds of visitors a day. The small historical buildings are often overwhelmed with guests who sit in additional outdoor seating when the weather permits.
This area of New York is still a bustling spot. Today, the cobblestoned road of Stone Street is lined cafes, restaurants and bars, and sees hundreds of visitors a day. The small historical buildings are often overwhelmed with guests who sit in additional outdoor seating when the weather permits. 
Washington moved into the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway on February 23 1790. The second presidential mansion, which is said to have had a stunning view of the Hudson River, offered the President more room for meetings and extracurricular activities.
Washington moved into the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway on February 23 1790. The second presidential mansion, which is said to have had a stunning view of the Hudson River, offered the President more room for meetings and extracurricular activities.
The Washington's hosted many social gatherings at the Macomb House during their residency. Historians have noted that the President loved to dance. In this illustration, George is pictured chatting with guests while his wife Martha stands on a podium. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are seen chatting to each other to the left of the First Lady.
The Washington's hosted many social gatherings at the Macomb House during their residency. Historians have noted that the President loved to dance. In this illustration, George is pictured chatting with guests while his wife Martha stands on a podium. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are seen chatting to each other to the left of the First Lady.
When not hosting parties, George Washington also frequented the John Street Theatre, the first permanent theater in New York City which is considered by some historians to be the birthplace of American theater. A drawing of the theater interior is pictured here.
When not hosting parties, George Washington also frequented the John Street Theatre, the first permanent theater in New York City which is considered by some historians to be the birthplace of American theater. A drawing of the theater interior is pictured here.
Although New York played a pivotal role in the formation of the American Government we know today, the city only remained the country's capital for five years. The Government House, pictured here, was meant to be New York's White House equivalent. Construction, however, was not completed until after the Founding Fathers decided to move the capitol and George Washington never moved in. The building was instead used as the Governors' House and later the Custom-House until it was torn down in 1815.
Although New York played a pivotal role in the formation of the American Government we know today, the city only remained the country's capital for five years. The Government House, pictured here, was meant to be New York's White House equivalent. Construction, however, was not completed until after the Founding Fathers decided to move the capitol and George Washington never moved in. The building was instead used as the Governors' House and later the Custom-House until it was torn down in 1815.
Congress met for the last time in Federal Hall on Aug. 12, 1790 and Washington officially left the city 18 days later for Philadelphia, which would serve as the new capital until the government would find its final home in Washington D.C.
Congress met for the last time in Federal Hall on Aug. 12, 1790 and Washington officially left the city 18 days later for Philadelphia, which would serve as the new capital until the government would find its final home in Washington D.C.

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