Every Wednesday at 12 the New York City Design Commission runs a free tour of City Hall. What's notable about the building, aside from the fact that you just might see Mayor Mike roaming around, is that it looks exactly as it did upon its completion in 1812. Unlike other municipal buildings, this one was built to be a city hall, and that's what it's been for the past 200 years.
Outside, in City Hall Park, George Washington and his troops heard the Declaration of Independence being read --- the park has been in almost continuous use as a gathering space since the 1600s. Today the portico steps serve as a staging area for protests (we saw pro-mosque demonstrators). Inside, the sweeping floating staircase dominates, leading past a bronze, by-all-accounts very lifelike statue of Washington and up toward a spectacular rotunda. The staircase climbs past the area where the body of Ulysses S Grant laid, past where Abraham Lincoln spent eight hours shaking hands upon his election and where his own body laid a few years later, to the Governor's Room, decorated with the desk Washington used as commander of the Continental Congress as well as portraits of other notables.
In 1812, New York had a population of around 97,000; today it has close to 8.5 million. Of the few things that have remained consistent, the city flag is still a tricolor symbol of the city's diversity, industry, cosmopolitanism, and, as we chose to interpret the two beavers imprinted within the blades of a Dutch windmill, a love of animals.