3. NYC’s First Prison Was in Greenwich Village

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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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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