5. The Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village Housed¬†a Women’s Prison

The Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village was originally built as the Third Judicial District Courthouse, designed by architect Frederick Clarke Withers of Vaux and Withers. The courthouse was equipped with a market and its own prison, which was originally a coed institution. Historically, the courthouse was used to hear trials concerning women, including in 1909 when members of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company were tried in night court to deter female workers from striking. In 1927, the court was reserved solely for women’s trials. By 1929, both the market and coed prison were torn down, and were replaced by the Women’s House of Detention. In 1945, the building was no longer used as a courthouse, and the prison was decommissioned¬†in 1973, subsequently replaced by a community garden.

Today, the Jefferson Market Library is one of the historic places you can legally climb up in NYC.

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2 Responses
  1. Kiwiwrwriter Reply

    I remember the Women’s House of Detention, from growing up in the Village…the women inside would yell down to their pals on the street, often in colorful metaphors, which shocked parents with little kids.

    The townhouse that blew up in 1971 was on the next block down from my grade school, PS 41. On the day that happened, we were sitting in second grade, doing a lesson, when we heard a “boom” that shook the building. Smoke came slowly down 11th Street, darkening it, and soon we heard zillions of sirens racing to the scene of the crime. When my mother picked me up, the whole area was cordoned off by cops.

    A few days later, a police detective came into our class, dressed in a trenchcoat, wearing a Gene Hackman porkpie hat, which he removed, to ask us if we had seen a naked woman running down 11th Street after the blast. She was sought in connection with the incident. Us being wise-ass second-graders growing up in the Village, we had a lot of answers. Mrs. Blume was shocked by our response.

    The detective thanked us for our time and stumped out of the class, muttering about “freaking smart-ass kids.”

    The good old days.

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