You may not know this, but in 1790, only seven years after winning its independence from Britain, the United States of America chose Liverpool as the site for its first ever consulate. The city’s growing transatlantic trade made it a vital partner for the USA, keen to exploit further commercial opportunities with Liverpool, Britain and beyond.
The gilded bald eagle which adorned the building on Paradise Street has taken its place in the Museum today.
It has been let to us by Liverpool ONE / Grosvenor, who removed the eagle from its original ‘perch’ in 2004, when the area’s redevelopment began. While adorning the consulate, it was exposed to the elements for many years and was becoming increasingly vulnerable with age as it’s made of wood, so it was taken into conservation and has been expertly restored.
Visitors to the Museum can now see the eagle at the entrance to the Museum’s Global City Gallery, which explores Liverpool’s international links and a full-size replica – which was revealed in December 2013 - has been made to take its place in Liverpool ONE.
The city has a deep-rooted relationship with North America, which goes back centuries. It’s an important part of the Liverpool’s history, and as a social history museum we couldn’t wish for a more appropriate object to highlight the significant links that were forged more than 200 years ago.
The consulate building stood in Paradise Street near to the quayside of Steers Dock, the world’s first commercial enclosed wet dock. Above its entrance graced the wooden sculpture of a gilded bald eagle, the proud symbol of the newly unified country.
Many Americans visiting the city were seamen, and the eagle was a recognisable icon if they needed help or advice in an unknown town.
The consulate eventually closed after the Second World War, when Liverpool’s importance as an international port declined. The building had a number of uses before it became The American Eagle pub and finally The Eagle before closure in 2003 to make way for the Liverpool ONE redevelopment in 2008.
We’ve worked hard with Liverpool ONE to make sure the eagle is displayed in a prominent position, so you won’t miss it!