Get to Faneuil Hall early, before the cacophony of commerce kicks up, and you can almost hear the history echoing around its walls. There’s Samuel Adams, rallying the good people of Boston to support our independence from Great Britain, and planning the Boston Tea Party. There’s Daniel Webster, eulogizing Thomas Jefferson and John Adams upon their deaths on July 4, 1826. There’s Oliver Wendell Holmes, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglas.
Built in 1742 by Peter Faneuil, the center has always been downtown Boston’s premier gathering place for both commercial and public life. By the early 1800s more space was needed, so the next-door Quincy Hall was added as part of Faneuil. Throughout the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, Faneuil Hall continued to prosper.
But, consistent with the suburbanization of America after World War II, downtown Boston started to lose its appeal. The Faneuil Hall buildings began to fall into disrepair, and some even fell vacant. Due to the vision of city leaders and The Rouse Company, Faneuil Hall was renovated into a festival marketplace in 1976, leading to similar renewals in Baltimore, New York, and many other cities.
Today, Faneuil Hall Marketplace consists of four buildings: the original Fanueil Hall, Quincy Hall, North Market, and South Market. A combination of shopping, restaurants, history, and entertainment now draws 18 million visitors each year to its 6.5 acres, located across the street from the waterfront.