A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
The First Almshouse
The First Almshouse in the City Hall Park area was built in 1735 and demolished in 1797. Its construction was one of simplicity, with a hipped-roof, five bays wide, and two stories. It is a significant structure within the record of City Hall Park because it was one of New York City's first welfare and punitive institutions.
The primary function of the Almshouse was to house the poor, the infirm, and the impoverished. Included in such categories were widows and orphans. Apart from providing shelter and food, the Almshouse was a workhouse that was designed to ensure that those who entered it would learn skills and knowledge to enable them to gain employment. A portion of the Almshouse also served as an infirmary to treat the diseased poor.
The Second Almshouse
The Second Almshouse was constructed in 1796 in response to the planned destruction of the First Almshouse. A long, narrow brick building, the Second Almshouse functioned as the first did, housing the poor until 1816, when the residents were moved farther north in the City. At that time it was voted by the City Council that the building be slated for public use. It housed such agencies as the American Museum and the Chambers Street Bank. In 1831, the Second Almshouse was designated to function as part of City Hall. It was used for courts and public offices until it was destroyed by fire in 1854.
Intro | Excavation | Project | Artifacts | Almshouses | Bridewell & New Gaol | Revolution | Potters