U.S. Customs House

U.S. Customs House

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is located on Bowling Green in Manhattan’s Financial District. It sits on the original site of New York City’s first custom house.

History of the Building

The U.S. Customs Service was established in 1789. By the 1900s, New York was the main port of entry into the United States. It was important that U.S. Customs be housed in a building that reflected its importance. Located at 55 Wall Street, the Customs Service found itself outgrowing its offices and Congress authorized the building of a new site.

Architect Cass Gilbert won the national competition for the project and the majestic granite structure was completed in 1907. It is lined with statues carved by Daniel Chester French, the artist noted for his sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. The statues are symbolic representations of Asia, America, Europe and Africa.

A $60 Million Renovation

U.S. Customs moved to the newly built World Trade Center in 1973. After its destruction in the 9/11 attacks, customs offices were scattered throughout the city. The Bowling Green building was unmaintained for years until a $60 million restoration project commenced in 1981. Now a National Historic Landmark, it houses the National Museum of the American Indian as well as federal government offices.

Visiting the U.S. Customs House

This historic building is located at One Bowling Green, Manhattan’s first parade ground and park. It is across the street from the northeast corner of Battery Park.

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