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.

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