Manhattan Criminal Court Building – New York NY

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The criminal court building in Manhattan was constructed with the assistance of the PWA in the late 1930s, for a cost of $14 million.  Construction began in 1938 and was completed in 1941. The site, once known as Collect Pond, was formerly occupied by an 1894 Criminal Courthouse and prison – known as ‘The Tombs”.  That name is sometimes still used for the present building.

The seventeen-story building is composed of four towers, with the tall center tower done in the step-back style popular in the 1920s and 30s. The facade is granite and limestone and the windows and spandrel form long, unbroken, vertical bands. The imposing entrance consists of two huge, freestanding granite columns.  The overall design is Art Deco, done by architects Wiley Corbett (who worked on Rockefeller Center) and Charles B. Meyers. The interior contains beautiful Art Deco fixtures, doors, railings and other flourishes.

The first District Attorney to work out of this building was Thomas E. Dewey, famous for fighting organized crime and corruption, especially by bringing down powerful members of the “Tammany Hall” political organization that had long held out-sized political influence in New York City.

The building now holds the Criminal and Supreme Courts, as well as offices for the District Attorney, Legal Aid, the Police Department and more.

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes
$500,000,000 PWA Program 94% Complete, With 105 of 116 Projects in City Now in Use"; The New York Times, June 16, 1940.

Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on September 25, 2014.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Location Info

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100 Centre St.
New York, NY 10013

Location notes: The Criminal Courts Building is located on the block surrounded by Centre, Leonard, Baxter and White Streets.

Coordinates: 40.71600, -74.00105

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