9. Jefferson Market Library
The Jefferson Market Library, located at 425 Avenue of the Americas, is fondly referred to as “Old Jeff” by patrons of the charming and historical library. While the landmark building has only served Greenwich Village as a library for a little over forty years, it has a long history as a courthouse.
Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux designed the now landmark building that was built from 1875 to 1877. In the 1880s, a poll of architects voted it one of the “top ten most beautiful buildings in America.” Included in the building’s somewhat grim history as a court house was the 1906 case of the Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, which revolved around Harry K. Thaw’s jealous murder of the architect, Stanford White over White’s former relationship with Evelyn Nesbit.
In the 1920s, the courts were only used for trials of women and in 1929, the coed prison was replaced entirely by the Women’s House of Detention, which was one of the only Art Deco prisons in the world at the time. The building was almost knocked down when it had been taken over by vermin but famous members of the community such as E.E. Cummings, Philip Wittenberg, Margot Gayle, Lewis Mumford, and Maurice Evans fought to save it until 1961, when Mayor Robert F. Wagner announced its future as a library.
The Jefferson Market Library is known for its rare collections of the history of New York City with an emphasis on Greenwich Village. The library also has an extensive collection on the history of the building itself.