Photographer and writer: FNY correspondent Gary Fonville
As with many courthouses around the city , in use or abandoned, many former precincts are still standing. The buildings shown below were built to be very durable. Most were built in the late 1800s. Most of them date to horse and buggy days, since a few still have the horse stables next to them. Unlike today’s utilitarian precincts they were built with many distinctive architectural features. They were built with stained glass, terra cotta, ironwork and even brownstone.
Even though they are former precincts, many have been recycled for other uses – from a super luxury apartment building to offices for community groups. One was even made into a church. Hopefully there will be uses for the abandoned ones!
Former 19th (then 87th) Precinct building, Humboldt and 43 Herbert Streets, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, constructed about 1890 in Romanseque Revival and designed by architect George Ingram.
Stable house in rear of the 87th; hoist, not readily visible, is directly above upper door to facilitate lifting of hay for storage.
Renaissance Revival former 50th Precinct, Kingsbridge Terrace and Summit Place, Bronx, now Kingsbridge Heights Community Center. This is a designated NYC Landmark.
Former 32nd Precinct, now African Methodist Church Self-Help Program, 1854 Amsterdam Avenue and West 152nd Street, Hamilton Heights, designed 1871 by Nathaniel Bush
65th (then 73rd) Precinct, East New York and Rockaway Avenues, Brownsville, Brooklyn
The former 75th Precinct building, a small fortress on Liberty and Miller Avenues in East New York, served a second stint beginning in the 70s as the People’s First Baptist Church (when it probably acquired its stained glass in the windows). But the church also had several gargoyles and green men – pagan symbols anathema to a Christian church. It is presently unoccupied; can it survive much longer? In any other neighborhood, it would have been condo-ized already.
Centre and Grand Streets, Soho: originally NYC Police Department Headquarters. Currently a super-luxury apartment building called Police Building Apartments, it was designed by Hoppin & Krohn and completed in 1909 just as the Beaux Arts movement was beginning to wind down and modernism was around the corner. The lions in front look rather more fierce than the two at the New York Public Library – as befits Police HQ. It was converted to luxury use in 1988, a very early harbinger of the luxe trend that would take hold in Soho in the following decade. Note how it fits into the tight rectangle defined by Centre, Grand and Broome Streets and Centre Market Place.
Till recently, Centre Market Place, in back of the building, always had a gun dealer (John Jovino, the most recent one, has relocated.
The ex-1st Precinct on Old Slip in the Wall Street area, completed in 1911, is now the NYC Police Department Museum.
Former 34th Precinct building, Wadsworth Avenue and West 182nd Street in Washington Heights.
47th Precinct, White Plains Road and West 229th Street in Wakefield, Bronx; photos: Don Gilligan
Vernon and Tompkins Avenues, Traffic Unit F, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Grand Avenue and Park Place, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, complete with old stable and giant ironworked window on the Park Place side.
Old 114th Precinct, 30th Avenue between 23rd and Crescent, Astoria, Queens, built 1890; now the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee
The sadly neglected old 18th Precinct (older 68th), 4th Avenue and 43rd Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, completed in 1905 by Raymond Almirall. Also a former music school. With the big money revivals going on in Red Hook and Cobble Hill, will the party reach Sunset Park? Perhaps then this building’s fortunes will be reversed.
Former 83rd Precinct, Wilson and DeKalb Avenues, Bushwick. Now the North Brooklyn Task Force. photo: Jay
Former 90th Precinct, Division and Lee Avenues, South Williamsburg, Brooklyn photo: Jay
Former 78, Brooklyn Central booking, Flatbush and 6th Avenues, Park Slope. photo: Jay
All images this page © Gary Fonville 2006 except where noted. Photographed spring and summer 2006; page composed August 5, 2006.