The Alexander Hamilton United States Custom House was completed in 1907. It is an impressive building, soaring seven stories and covering 450,000 square feet over three blocks of lower Manhattan.
The purpose of a custom house was to collect taxes and regulate commerce coming into the United States. This was before income tax was collected, so the custom tax was a very important form of revenue for the country. The original Custom House at Bowling Green in New York City was built in the late 1700s and destroyed by fire in 1815. When the federal government decided to erect a new Custom House at Bowling Green in the 1890s, the United States Department of Treasury sponsored a competition for the best architectural design. The winning design by Cass Gilbert represented New York and the United States as leading commercial powers.
The building has numerous carvings of historical and philosophical images. Four large sculptures at the entrance, known as “The Continents,” represent Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa. On the sixth story of the building's exterior are twelve carved figures representing twelve great shipping powers of the ancient and modern world: Greece, Rome, Phoenicia, Genoa, Venice, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, France, and England.
How is architecture influenced by culture and economy?
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Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the influence of culture and economy on this structure.