Police Building

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240 Centre Street, New York City, NY

Police Building

The majestic Police Building
Building Information
Architect Hoppin & Koen
Number of Units 55
Number of Floors 6
Year Built 1909
Construction Method Masonry
Type of Roof Metal
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240 Centre Street, New York City, NY, United States
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning C6-2G
Title of Land Cooperative



The north end of the Police Building which has a small park, unusual for government buildings at the time
The Police Building was inspired by the notion of the "White City" that had been highlighted at the World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Also known as The Chicago World's Fair, this exposition displayed Beaux Arts design principles based on symmetry, balance, and splendor.

This need for this building came about after the five city-boroughs of New York were consolidated into Greater New York in 1898. The police department grew rapidly around the turn of the century and a new police headquarters building was planned. The corner stone was laid in 1905 by then Mayor George McClellan and the building was completed in 1909. The architects, Hoppin & Koen, created was was described as a domed palace referring to the copper clad cupola, prominent pediments, and pillared façades. The building was extravagant and grand in an area of the city filled with tenement housing in Little Italy.

The newly consolidated five boroughs were proud of their new Police Headquarters building

Author Diana S. Waite said of the building in her book, Architects of Albany, that, "Hoppin's Beaux Arts training is evident in ornate town houses for such clients as James Lanier but is apparent more dramatically in the New York City Police Headquarters at 240 Centre Street. This monumental, domed structure, constrained on a triangular lot, was designed ‘to impress both the officer and prisoner with the majesty of the law.’”

The Police Building served as New York City's police headquarters form 1909 to 1973 when the police moved into a red brick box of a building with a modernist style. Meanwhile, this magnificent old building fell into neglect. One attempt to convert the structure to a luxury hotel was abandoned when funding was elusive as the area was considered off the beaten jet set path.

It was finally purchased by developers Arthur D. Emil, John J. Ferchill and Edward R. Downe Jr. from the City in 1983 for $4.2 million. They brought in the design team of Ehrenkrantz Group & Eckstut and spent an additional $20 million essentially gutting the structure and re-working it to become 55 cooperative apartments. The grand lobby was preserved in much the same state as it always had been.[1]


The Police Building is situated in the heart of Little Italy. It is bookended east and west by the Bowery and SoHo, and encompassed by Chinatown.

Little Italy around the turn of the 20th century
Little Italy has always been a busy and vibrant area of Manhattan, close to the downtown center.

Access to the rest of the city is easily accomplished with New York's public transit system with two subway stations less than a block away.

Open spaces take the form of squares mostly, although the Sara D Roosevelt Park is only three tenths of a mile away. There are lots of schools nearby from pre-schools to the New York Film Academy.

There are also several museums and cultural centers in the immediate neighborhood. But bars and restaurants are the talk of Little Italy with some good choices on Mulberry Street.[2]


The wedge shape of the Police Building
The cupola and clocks of the Police Building
As with most institutional buildings of that era, the actual builder is not often listed. However, the architect for the Police Building is proudly published as Hoppin & Koen. Francis L.V. Hoppin teamed up with Terrence Koen and they were best known for their country and city residences. Their designs followed the Adam and Georgian styles. The Police Building is certainly a Beaux Arts creation designed to inspire awe in the population of the strength of the law.

It was the Police Headquarters for more than 60 years and no doubt the 75 jail cells in the basement held many a culprit. When the police moved their headquarters, the old building lay dormant for about ten years and almost fell into serious dilapidation until the new owners and the design team of Ehrenkrantz Group & Eckstut renovated the structure to its current cooperative use.

With its copper roofs, the huge cupola and decorative pediments, this building may be mistaken for a state legislature structure as it follows many of the same design characteristics, right down to public clocks in the tower.

It was built in a wedge-shaped lot but the north end was blunted to allow for a small garden, an unusual addition for a public building at this time. The building extends the full length of the block north and south.

Although the building, and the renovation, cannot boast of many modern amenities, there are still a few fireplaces within and it does have the grandeur of bygone eras.[3]

Layout and Features

The grand lobby of the Police Building
Although the Police Building does not offer sundecks, pools, and such, the apartments are spacious and lovingly restored with spectacular layouts.

The building became a landmark of New York City in 1978 and has a private gym and a garden.

The building also features a doorman and concierge service. Additional storage is available for residents, perhaps a converted jail cell?[4]

Floor Plans


Little Italy today
  • Doorman
  • Concierge
  • Garden
  • Health club
  • Some fireplaces
  • Unusual and spectacular layouts
  • Washer/Dryer in building


  • No sundeck
  • No garage


Police Building Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues No

  • Rentals and pied-à-terre are allowed


The Police Building is not considered a "green building" by today's building practices.

Residents can help to lessen their impact on the environment by participating in New York City's comprehensive recycling programs


  • On June 9, 1970, a radical group called the Weathermen, planted 10 sticks of dynamite in the Police Building. The responsible parties, Jane Alpert and William Ayers, said the bombing was in response to "police repression".
  • The Police Building is said to have cost $1.5 million to build. The limestone exterior cladding comes from Indiana. It had a detective bureau and a rogues gallery, along with the 75 jail cells.
  • The eclectic residences and unique layouts have attracted such celebrities to live there as:
    • Calvin Klein
    • Stefi Graf
    • Leonardo DiCaprio
    • Cindy Crawford
    • Christy Turlington
    • Linda Evangelista
    • Winona Ryder



  1. Daytonian
  2. Walk Score
  3. The Mount
  4. City Realty
  5. Dwellings NYC

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