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.