There it is, with wide windows and a courtyard, circa 1920 in the photo (courtesy of the NYPL Digital Collection) on the right, just 17 years after opening.
Here it is today, a ruin so dilapidated, trees grow out of the second floor windows and trash mars the courtyard where generations of kids used to play.
A weathered wrought-iron fence tops the original cement barrier between the school and the street.
P.S. 186 is in shocking condition—but how did it get this way?
The city closed the school in 1975; the building changed hands until it was bought (for $215,000!) by the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem in 1986.
The club did nothing with it, letting it fall into disrepair until finally signing on with a developer in 2009 to help turn it into a community center, low-cost housing, and possibly another school, according to a New York Times article from 2010.
Scaffolding on the outside hints that P.S. 186 may finally be getting its makeover.