Immediately following the American Revolutionary War, Philadelphia was declared the original capital city of the United States, and Congress Hall served as the first U.S. Capitol Building. It hosted the United States Congress until May 1800, when political focus shifted to Washington, D.C.
When used as the home of Congress, the House of Representatives met on the first floor, and the Senate met upstairs. The second floor is the more elaborate of the two, with a hand-loomed carpet bearing seals of the original colonies, and oil portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette bequeathed by the French government to a newly liberated America.
The presidential inaugurations of Washington and Adam were held here, as were ceremonies establishing the First Bank of the United States and the ratification of Jay’s Treaty with England. The latter, named for then Chief Justice John Jay, ended the American Revolution and created ten years of peaceful trade between the Crown and the Colonies.
Beautifully restored to its original Colonial condition, Congress Hall is free to visit on a first-come, first-served basis. Only small groups are allowed in at any one time, so be prepared for a short wait.