Named for Tammany Hall leader Big Tom Foley
in 1926, a year after his death. Foley, in
addition to being an alderman, sheriff, Tammany
district leader and a mentor of Alfred Smith,
was a saloonkeeper, and his last joint was
located where his square is now.
The park in Foley Square is Thomas Paine
Park, commemorating the great advocate
for the American Revolution, who died in New York
The sculpture in
the fountain here is called
The Triumph of the Human Spirit; the boat-like
shape represents the slave trade and all
U.S. immigration; the black granite forms
that rise above the "boat" are patterned
on African antelope carvings.
There was an obscure TV show called
a legal drama that ran for a few months in 1985-86.
360-degree panorama of Foley Square!
This small traffic island is part of Foley Square.
Point (2 Lafayette): This building
Municipal Credit Union and
the New York City Department for
the Aging. Corte Cafe is on the
31 (block): This Beaux Arts masterpiece,
designed by John R. Thomas, was built between 1899
and 1907 at a cost of more than $7 million. It was originally
known as the Hall of Records, but it's always been
home to the Surrogate's Court, which handles wills,
estates and adoptions.
Flanking the entrance are Philip Martiny's allegorical
Authority used to be represented on the Centre Street
side, but they were removed to the New York County Courthouse
when that roadway was widened in 1961.
The facade also features Martiny's statues of historical figures
connected with New York and New Amsterdam, many of them
now obscure: From left, they are
David Pietersen de Vries,
DeWitt Clinton, Abram S. Hewitt, Philip Hone, Peter Stuyvesant,
Cadwallader D. Colden and
The gorgeous interior was inspired by the Paris
Opera House, whose influence can also be seen on
Grand Central Terminal.
This was where Nicole Kidman worked in Batman Forever,
Keanu Reeves did some lawyering in Devil's Advocate
and Gary Oldman met his fate in Romeo Is Bleeding.
Built in 1799 this site was the Manhattan Company Reservoir,
the holding tank for Aaron Burr's water company, designed
in an Egyptian style with a statue of Aquarius the water-bearer.
Burr had started the company because it was easier for an
existing company to go into banking than to get
a new bank chartered; the bank that he got going through
this gambit eventually put the "Manhattan" in Chase Manhattan. Alexander
Hamilton's objections to this roundabout creation of a competitor
to Hamilton's Bank Of New York sparked a feud that eventually
culminated in the fatal Burr/Hamilton duel of 1804.
This was originally set aside in 1686 by the Dutch
colonial government as The Commons, a pasture
adjacent to the Collect Pond where townsfolk
could take their livestock to eat and drink.
It soon became the city's main park, serving as a gathering place
for celebrations--and protests.
On August 11, 1766, New Yorkers angry that their Liberty
Pole protest in the park had been taken down, threw bricks
at British soldiers here, who retaliated with
bayonets--resulting in the first (non-fatal) bloodshed of
the Revolutionary era. General George Washington
had the Declaration of Independence read here
on July 9, 1776. In 1826, African-Americans rioted here
against slave-catchers pursuing escapees
from the South. Another riot here in 1837 opposed
the raising of the price of flour from
$6 to $15 a barrel. During the Draft Riots of 1863,
rioters attacked blacks here.
When Albany in 1857 replaced the corrupt
Municipal Police with a new organization known as
the Metropolitan Police, the two forces clashed
here in a
melee that left one officer permanently
crippled. Closer to the present, police
rioted here in September 1992 against Mayor David Dinkins'
Civilian Complaint Review Board proposals.
Jack London was homeless for a time,
he spent his nights in City Hall Park--
a time that inspired his novel The
People of the Abyss.
52 Chambers: Built between 1861 and 1871, this former
Criminal Courts Building was supposed to cost
$250,000; it ended up costing as much as $14 million,
with much of the difference being pocketed by William
''Boss'' Tweed and his Tammany Hall cronies. This
graft, excessive even for those days, helped land
Tweed in jail, but it is a remarkably beautiful
This site was earlier the New York Institution, the
city's almshouse; the residents were transferred to
Bellevue in 1816, after which the building served to
house the New-York Historical Society, the Society Library,
the American Academy of Fine Arts and the Bank for Savings.
Corner (60 Centre): This hexagonal
building with a Roman portico was originally
the New York County Courthouse, replacing the
Tweed Courthouse. Architect
Guy Lowell won a 1912 design competition, though
the building was not completed until 1927.
Above the columns is a quote from George Washington:
"The true administration of justice is the firmest
pillar of good government." The sculptures above the
pediment represent Law, Truth and Equity.
This imposing building often appears in films;
Kris Kringle was tried here in Miracle on 34th Street,
as was Charlie Sheen in Wall Street; Keanu Reeves
tried a case here in The Devil's Advocate,
Henry Ford had jury duty here in Twelve Angry Men,
a rival to The Godfather was assassinated on the
steps and Ray Liotta testified here against the Goodfellas--
to name just a few.
The courthouse is built in part on the site of the
Old Brewery, one of the filthiest and overcrowded
dwellings in the notorious Five Points slum.
Block (40 Centre): Designed by Cass Gilbert
and Cass Gilbert Jr. as a Classical temple
with a 24-story tower topped by a gold pyramid--
reminiscent of the elder Gilbert's Woolworth Tower.
Completed in 1936, the year of Gilbert's death.
Renamed (at Sen. Hillary Clinton's initiative)
for the great Supreme Court
on the other side of the bench successfully
argued Brown v. Board of Education.
Courtrooms here have heard the trials
of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Imelda Marcos
and former Miss America Bess Myerson.
12: Walt Whitman lived at Mrs. Chipman's
boardinghouse at this address in 1842. He wrote
a comic story for the New York Aurora about
being locked out after coming home too late
and having to spend the night in a city shelter.
1: New York City launched an architectural
competition in 1907 to build an administrative
center for the newly consolidated five buroughs.
The winning design, by McKim, Mead & White,
mixed Imperial Roman and Renaissance motifs; it
was the firm's first skyscraper.
tower rising above the building's U-shaped base
is topped by Adolph Weinman's 20-foot-tall copper-clad
statue of Civic Fame--the largest statue in
New York after Liberty. Allegorical friezes
representing Civic Duty and Civic Pride
adorn the western facade. Stalin was a fan of the
building and had Moscow University's main building
patterned after it.
With a million square foot of space, the
building houses most of the Mayor's Office, as well as
those of the Manhattan Borough President, the Public
Advocate, the Comptroller and the Landmarks Preservation
Commission. It's where minimalists and couples in a
hurry go to get married--14,000 times a year. It's
also the home of
WNYC, New York's public radio station
since 1922--now broadcast from the tower.
Construction on the bridge began in 1870; when
completed in 1883, it was half again as long as any
other suspension bridge in the world. At least 16
people died in its construction, including its
John Augustus Roebling, who contracted
tetanus after his foot was crushed by a ferry. His son
Washington Roebling, who inherited the project,
was stricken by compression sickness while working in
cassions, leaving Washington's wife
Elizabeth Warren Roebling
to become the de facto chief engineer.
Soon after it was opened, on Memorial Day 1883,
a panic on the bridge resulted in a dozen people being
trampled to death.
Con artists actually have succeeded in
repeatedly selling the Brooklyn
Bridge to gullible victims.