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New York City’s prison population is the lowest it has been in 10 years–10,923 inmates as of September 2014. But still, an ongoing question for the NYC Department of Corrections is where to house the inmates in a city as dense as New York. It might be surprising to some that the city’s prisons are generally, right among us–some look just like the apartment buildings next door except for some barbed wire windows. Prisons used to be organized along district lines, particularly before the 1898 consolidation of the five boroughs. They were attached to or near the courts and were little more than holding cells.

Here below are 15 of NYC’s former prisons, many which are still standing:

1. NYC’s First Prison: Newgate Prison

From the Commissioners Grid for NYC

Between Christopher Street and Charles Street there was once a prison complex called Newgate Prison, the first prison complex in New York State. Newgate was not its official name, but it was referred to colloquially after the prison of the same name in London. In contrast to its predecessor, Newgate was influenced by the ideals of social reformers, who turned it into a house of corrections. It stood there from 1796 to 1829, when the city sold the land and relocated the prison to Sing Sing. The street grid has since been extended and the shoreline further filled in. Originally, the penitentiary had its own wharf.

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