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:


Roosevelt Island-Boat Prow-Octagon Park-Weintraub & di Domenico-NYC-001

One of the many quirky finds on Roosevelt Island is this boat prow that juts out into the West Channel of the East River. It sits in Octagon Park and faces out towards Manhattan, with some light graffiti and usually empty. Is it the remnant of an old boat? Is it an art project?



Last month, Brooklyn real estate broker Dan Levy proposed a system of gondola lifts to ferry people between Manhattan and quickly growing waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Dubbed the East River Skyway, the proposal is modeled as a sort of juiced up Roosevelt Island Tram. Levy envisions the system connecting South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan to Dumbo and the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, up to Williamsburg and across again to the Lower East Side, and a final stretch extending the Roosevelt Island tram over to Long Island City in Queens. He estimates the entire project could cost $225 million to $375 million, and could transport 5,000 commuters per hour per direction, with cars arriving every 30 to 40 seconds.


Tom Otterness-Roosevelt Island-Marriage of Real Estate and Monday-East River-NYC

While the popular destination on Roosevelt Island these days include FDR Four Freedoms Park and the abandoned smallpox hospital, if you head in the opposite direction you may happen upon some quirky sculptures by Tom Otterness. But you’d have to look over the water’s edge, as the sculptures come out of the water! Installed in 1996 and titled “The Marriage of Real Estate and Money,” the sculptures make a statement situated between the dueling residential developments on both Roosevelt Island and Midtown East.


Hunts Point Landing-The Bronx-Greenway-NYCHunts Point Landing, image via Urban Engineers

Far from the hordes of people that crowd New York’s more popular beaches are a host of lesser known parks offering waterfront access and panoramic views. The city published a map of all of New York’s public waterfront space, but we’ve picked out some of the most interesting from each of the five boroughs. Check them out before the summer weather disappears for good.


Our recent fun map about the farmhouse that moved from the Upper East Side to Greenwich Village reminded us of all the other buildings in NYC that were literally picked up and relocated. Here’s a list of these migrants and their stories!

1. The Empire Theater on 42nd Street

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Image via Cryptome