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‘Those who cannot bear free speech had best go home,’ said Wendell Phillips. ‘Faneuil Hall is no place for slavish hearts.’ Indeed, this public meeting place was the site of so much rabble-rousing that it earned the nickname the ‘Cradle of Liberty.’ After the revolution, Faneuil Hall was a forum for meetings about abolition, women’s suffrage and war. On the 2nd floor, the historic hall is normally open to the public, who can hear about the building’s history from National Park Service (NPS) rangers.
The brick colonial building – topped with the beloved grasshopper weather vane – was constructed in 1740 at the urging of Boston benefactor and merchant Peter Faneuil. In 1805 Charles Bulfinch enlarged the building, enclosing the 1st-floor market and designing the 2nd-floor meeting space, where public ceremonies are still held today. On the top floor the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Co of Massachusetts, which was chartered in 1638, maintains a peculiar collection of antique firearms, political mementos and curious artifacts.