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Old Police Headquarters

Today a group of luxury apartments, the NYPD's former headquarters is one of the finest Beaux-Arts buildings in all New York.

TravelCurious Tip

The trendy bistro “Jack’s Wife Freda” is a just a couple of blocks away. Try Freda’s fried fish balls!

When the New York Police Department decided to move on from its legendary headquarters on Mulberry Street, it wanted somewhere impressive. It rather grandly commissioned a building that would “impress both the officer and the prisoner with the majesty of the law”. What they got was a Beaux-Arts and Edwardian Baroque masterpiece that, to this day, is considered one of the finest buildings in New York.


Yet the Old Police Headquarters remains relatively under appreciated compared to New York’s other Beaux-Arts buildings, such as the Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library. Found at 240 Centre Street, it was built on a triangular lot; from above, it looks like a slice of pie. A turn of the century postcard boasted about its detective’s bureau, its rogues’ gallery and its playroom for lost children.


Sadly, these rooms are lost. The building housed the headquarters of New York City Police Department from 1909 to 1973. Since then, it has been converted into luxury apartments. The exterior and marble-clad entrance hall were preserved, but the rest of the interior was gutted and reworked. It is now home to movie stars, investment bankers and fashion designers: Leonardo DiCaprio, Winona Ryder and Calvin Klein number among the residents. At least the magnificent building remains.


Velvet Underground

According to popular lore, a tunnel connected the local watering-hole Callahan’s with the Police Headquarters, thus allowing easy passage for the Boys in Blue during the dry days of the prohibition. Callahan’s, now known as Onieal’s, help propagate the story, claiming they now use the remaining part of the tunnel as a wine cellar. The NYPD have declined to comment.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in New York
SoHo
South of Houston Street is a historic district famed for its artistic atmosphere and cast-iron façades.
E. V. Haughwout Building
Created in 1856, this cast-iron landmark is home to the first passenger elevator.
Little Italy
A nostalgic area full of the legacies of Italian immigrant culture at the turn of the 20th century.
Rockefeller Center Observation Deck
This high vantage point gives an incredible vista of the Big Apple.
5th Precinct
One of New York's most well known precincts. It polices Chinatown and Little Italy.
Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum
A synagogue built in 1925-27, which now functions as a museum too.

Related Tours

Private Walking Tour of Little Italy, Soho and Chinatown
The different neighbourhoods of New York each have something to give the curious traveller. Go with your personal guide to see four of its most vibrant districts to see many of New York’s off the beaten path sights.
      
  • Enjoy avant-garde  Greenwich Village
  • Experience the artistic soul of Soho
  • See the impact of immigrants in Little Italy and Chinatown 
The Village
 

 Simply known as “The Village” and much loved by native New Yorkers, Greenwich has been, and still is home to America’s bohemian scene. You will start at Washington Square Park, a buzzing city hangout, where you will discover cobblestoned mews and 19th century brownstone carriage houses. You will glimpse some of New York’s rarest sights, for example, the home where John Wilkes Booth spoke openly of his plan to murder President Abraham Lincoln. Pass by such landmarks as the Jefferson Market Library and Bleecker Street, as well as where Hemingway, Edgar Poe, Jackson Pollack lived and worked. 

 Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown

You will proceed to explore New York City’s vibrant neighbourhoods of Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown. You will venture through Soho where you will learn about its transformation from its' humble beginnings as a centre for the rag trade industry, eventually becoming an extravagant artist community. You will see Soho's unique collection of cast iron buildings such as the Haughwout Building, home to the first safety elevator, and the Old Police Headquarters— the 1909 Beaux-Arts building.
 
While walking the narrow cobblestone streets in the heart of Little Italy, you will learn about Mafia hangouts, the most famous of which is Ravenite Club. You will pop into the oldest cheese shop in NYC and the first NYC pizzeria, as well as exploring Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Journey through NYC’s Chinatown, walk along Canal and Motts Streets, the former Five Points District, and the Old Opium Den, where you will hear stories of Chinese immigrants who came to Manhattan to build a future of their own. Your expert local guide will also tell you all about the violent gangs that sprang up around them, fighting for dominance. 
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