It’s doubtful that today’s Greenwich Village residents would allow the city to put up a fortress-like jail behind Jefferson Market, the 19th century courthouse-turned-library at Sixth and Greenwich Avenues.
But the Village was different in the 1930s. When city officials decided to replace an old jail that was part of Jefferson Market, they weren’t met with NIMBY opposition.
Modern and bright (WPA murals lined the walls), it focused on reforming the inmates, often charged with prostitution.
There were some illustrious inmates, held for other crimes, like Ethel Rosenberg, Angela Davis, and Valerie Solanas, who shot Andy Warhol in 1968.
By the 1960s, it was overcrowded and as unsafe as the jail it replaced. Closed in 1971 (inmates were shipped off the Rikers Island), the building was bulldozed in 1974.
A lovely garden was planted in its place.
Tags: Angela Davis prison, Ethel Rosenberg, Greenwich Village history, Jefferson Market Courthouse, Jefferson market library, New York City jail, New York City prison, Valerie Solanas Andy Warhol, Women's House of Detention, women's prison NYC, WPA murals in New York City