4. The Jefferson Market Library (1877 as a Courthouse)
The Jefferson Market Library has had many past lives prior to its opening in 1967. The building was constructed between 1875-1877, by architects Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux in a Victorian Gothic style. The structure has hosted a courthouse, a police court, a holding room for prisoners, and a fire watcher’s balcony. In 1929, the courts were used solely for women and the prison as the Women’s House of Detention. Eventually by 1959, the building was abandoned and had been overrun by animals such as birds and rats. In an effort to save the building, Mayor Robert F. Wagner —‚ motivated by members of the Greenwich Village community — made the decision to preserve and convert the space into a public library, and thus, The Jefferson Market Library was born.
One of the most recognizable elements of the Jefferson Market Library is its clocktower, which Untapped Cities Insiders have been able to climb and explore on several behind-the-scenes trips inside. Unfortunately, the library closed on April, 1 for approximately three months of renovation which will improve ADA accessibility, rehabilitate the lobby, upgrade several restrooms, and install a new elevator. Stay tuned for our next visit!