Faneuil Hall was founded in 1742 by Peter Faneuil as a central marketplace for crops and livestock in downtown Boston. At first there was opposition to the new marketplace from farmers who feared a competitive "buyer's market" would cut profits.
The famed "Golden Grasshopper" weathervane was placed atop Faneuil Hall in 1742. From this perch, the grasshopper has witnessed the remarkable growth of the city and over 260 years of American history in the making.
In 1761, a fire at Faneuil Hall damaged the grasshopper weathervane. Thomas Drowne, a blacksmith and the son of the grasshopper's creator, repaired the weathervane and inserted a "time capsule" in its stomach. The capsule, which is engraved "Food for the Grasshopper," includes historical newspapers, coins, and messages from mayors that have been added as the grasshopper has been periodically refurbished.
As England attempted to impose taxes on the colonies, Faneuil Hall emerged as an important meeting place, hosting the Sons of Liberty as they resisted the taxes and debated the important issues of the day.
Faneuil Hall used to be waterfront property - in the early 1800's Bostonians needed more land, so they filled in the harbor, pushing the waterfront back to where it is today.
Faneuil Hall was expanded to include Quincy Market in 1826, when Boston's rapid growth necessitated a larger marketplace.
Durgin Park, the oldest existing restaurant in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, was opened in 1826.
Faneuil Hall celebrated its 150th birthday in 1976 with major renovations, creating Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The construction was considered America's most prominent "urban renewal" project, and the Marketplace's subsequent success has spawned the creation of other similar urban marketplaces in New York, Baltimore, Miami, Washington, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Cardiff, Glasgow, and most recently in Portland, Maine.
During the 1976 construction, workers discovered Quincy Market's "Great Dome," which had been hidden by a false ceiling. The dome has been refurbished and is now visible.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace originally had five restaurants, three bars, seven delicatessens, and 16 food shops, as well as other shops selling a variety of merchandise.
Today, there are 49 shops, 18 restaurants and pubs, 35 Colonnade eateries and 44 pushcarts in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It is easily accessible from Boston public transportation, and there are 10,724 parking garage spaces within a two-mile radius of the Marketplace.
Street performers began performing at Faneuil Hall in the early 1970's to entertain the construction workers. They have never left, and today, Faneuil Hall is one of the premiere venues for street performing in the world.