"The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is a building in New York City built in 1902–07 by the federal government, to house the duty collection operations for the Port of New York. It is located at the south end of 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. 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.

In 1990, Moynihan sponsored the law that renamed the building after Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury." 


"The building was hugely important to the nation: Import duties charged here and at other ports financed the government, in the days before an income tax. The Customs Service moved to the World Trade Center in 1971. The building was empty for a decade, and slated for demolition until Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D, NY) sponsored a bill to restore the Custom House. Additional legislation required the GSA (General Services Administration) to find new uses for unused federal buildings. Now, the building is shared by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the National Archives, and the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution)."

Building History

custom house
by GSA.gov

"The U.S. Customs Service, established by the First Congress in 1789, is the oldest federal agency. The Customs Service assesses and collects duties and taxes on imported goods, controls carriers of imports and exports, and combats smuggling and revenue fraud.

The monumental Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House sits prominently on Bowling Green at Manhattan's tip. Bowling Green, the island's first parade ground and park, was the site of the city's first Custom House which burned down in 1814. The customs service moved several times, but by 1888 a new, larger home was needed for its activities in the prospering port of New York. The government purchased the Bowling Green site in 1892.

The Tarsney Act of 1893 played an important role in the design of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. It authorized the secretary of the treasury to use private architects, selected through architectural competitions, to design federal buildings. As a process, it manifested the growing demand for greater architectural standards for public buildings and opened the way for added appropriations to maintain those standards. In 1899 Supervising Architect of the Treasury James Knox Taylor (1857-1929) invited twenty firms to vie for the U.S. Custom House commission. Cass Gilbert's elaborate Beaux Arts design was selected.

Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) was trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked at the renowned New York firm of McKim, Mead, and White. In 1887 he set up practice in St. Paul, Minnesota with James Knox Taylor. After moving his office to New York City, Gilbert designed such notable buildings as New York's Woolworth Building (1913) and Washington, DC's U.S. Supreme Court (1929-1935). His U.S. Custom House design reflects the planning and aesthetic ideals of the City Beautiful movement, which promoted civic patriotism, urban economics and beauty.

The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In 1979 New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission made the exterior and public interior spaces a city landmark. In 1994, the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian opened in the building. The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts and U.S. Department of Transportation offices are also in the building.

Building Facts

Architect: Cass Gilbert

Construction Dates: 1900-1907

Landmark Status: National Historic Landmark

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

New York City Landmark (exterior and interior)

Location: The Bowling Green

Architectural Style: Beaux Arts

Primary Materials: Granite Exterior Marble interior

Prominent Features: Four Continents sculptures by Daniel Chester French; Rotunda with murals by Reginald Marsh Collector's Suite with oak paneling by Tiffany Studios"

video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maB4z5KZ-hA&list=PL50F0D973D11BAE7B#action=share

Hamilton Live! Book now



The Travels

Gaining wisdom and confidence through fun experiential learning tours. The Travels LLC. has been a family run Tour Operator since 1990.


About Our Company

us 1

Contact Us

Email Address