Faneuil Hall Essay, Research Paper
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
In the early eighteenth century Boston did not have a central area to participate in commerce and civic duty. Street vendors who roamed the city with their pushcarts sold food and other items. Boston was the center of trade at this point in time and the need for a central marketplace was profound. The city was growing at a rapid pace and was running out of land. Businessmen from the outskirts of Boston brought trash and dirt to the harbor. The men dumped the dirt off of the piers and eventually created piles large enough to cover with fill and build on. Many say that parts of Boston were stolen from the sea. The CAS building is a prime example of an area that was built on a dump. If Boston were to ever be hit with an earthquake many of its structures would fall into the Charles River or the harbor. In 1742, Faneuil hall was constructed on the soft sediment fill. Peter Faneuil, a wealthy Bostonian, donated the city s first market place. Faneuil hall is one of the most prominent open spaces in Boston. The site is only open to pedestrians and is characterized by its unique cobblestone streets. There are three markets (North, South, Quincy) that define the barriers of the marketplace. The area is alive with the characteristics of both the old world and the new.
The most remarkable and identifiable aspect of Faneuil hall in 1762 was its usage. Originally constructed in 1742 by Smibert, it burnt to the ground nineteen years later. In 1762 the hall was used as a meeting place for the men who organized the American Revolution. In 1805 Charles Bullfinch was chosen to renovate the hall so that it could better serve the expanding city. Faneuil hall was originally three-barrel tunnel rows wide and constructed of a brick. Bullfinch and his team expanded it to seven and incorporated the existing structure of the hall into the renovation. He also added a third floor, which was primarily to be used for civic meetings. Each area of the hall served a purpose. The bottom floor is primarily used as a marketplace. This marketplace floor is characterized by its Doric columns, which seems somewhat simplistic. Ionic columns characterize the upper floors. Perhaps the upper floors are fancy due to the matters which were discussed in situ. As one observes the building it is interesting to note the keystones that are in place over the windows and the doors. Consistant with Greek architectural patterns; it is obvious to the observer that the architect desired for the viewer to be drawn to the upper levels of the building for it is increasingly ornate toward the pediment. The hall is complimented by a cupola that sits atop the east side of the building.
In 1825 the city constructed two adjacent warehouses that were used to house wholesale produce dealers. In 1964 the Boston Chamber of Commerce recognized the area as an important part of the city s history, architecture and urban design. Rouse and Thompson undertook the project to redesign the market area. Originally their plan called for an area that would serve the local city residents in a manner that would draw them to the area frequently. The shops were intended to carry common goods and be run by mom and pop outfits. This area is remarkably similar to the Stoa of Attalus II. They both share a common usage in their civic and commercial purposes. The buildings of the marketplace guard the inner forum from the rest of Boston in a similar manner to the Stoa as well.
Today the marketplace of Faneuil hall is alive and well. It is visited by over twelve million tourists and locals alike each year. In recent years the marketplace has become a center for tourism, which now accounts for over half of its revenue annually. Contrary to the marketplace s intended use, it is now overwhelmingly occupied by stores that are national chains. Perhaps the most fascinating accomplishment of Rouse and Thompson was their design of this public space. An area that was once barren and wasteful has been transformed back into what it once was in the mid-eighteenth century. Faneuil hall still serves a civic purpose as a public meeting area and forum for social interaction on a grande scale. The relationship between the buildings of faneuil hall and its more modern neighboring skyscrapers illustrate the historical significance and growth of Boston.