February 22, 1732 marked the birth of our nation’s first President, George Washington. Now celebrated along with Abraham Lincoln's birthday as a federal holiday, Presidents' Day, on the third Monday of February. It's also an extra day off of work for many of us.
In 1932, to celebrate the bicentennial of Washington's birth, the Washington Bicentennial Committee, headed by Sol Bloom and Grover Whalen, was formed to erect a replica of Federal Hall just behind the NYPL, in Bryant Park. The original Federal Hall was located on Wall Street, and it was there that Washington took his first oath of office.
This building cost an estimated $8,000 to construct, and 25 cents per patron to enter. It stayed up for a little over a year after the celebration, mostly collecting dust and resentment. The faux Federal Hall stayed up for months, and was torn down in April 1933, at the urging of the Parks Department. The Commission was supposed to restore the park to its prior condition, but was thwarted by lack of funds. The often articulate barometer of widespread NYC sentiment, the New Yorker, referred to these as some of the park's "dreary years" in a December 1, 1934 article.
A much older, and slightly different version of this post is on the Bryant Park blog, posted around President's Day last year, and before I figured out what to do with pictures on blogs.