The Jefferson Market Library is part of New York City?s highly regarded public library system and can be found in the small neighborhood of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. It was transformed to a library in 1967 but had a rich history even before.
The Jefferson Market Library was formerly a courthouse and was built following the Victorian Gothic architecture. It was constructed from 1875 to 1877 together with a nearby market and prison. The project took $360,000 to put up and included a civil court, a police court and a basement where detainees are kept before they are moved to jail.
The structure was consistently praised for its distinct and magnificent architecture and many times, it was called as one of the most striking buildings in the entire United States at the beginning of the 20th century.
The former courthouse was the venue of several high profile trials which include that of Harry Thaw, who allegedly murdered architect Stanford White. The popular court proceeding which involved another famous personality in the character of chorus singer Evelyn Nesbit became the inspiration for Ragtime, a novel written by E.L. Doctorow. The novel was eventually adapted and became a multi-awarded Broadway musical.
In 1945, after numerous decades of being the battleground of many controversial hearings, the Jefferson Market Library stopped to be a courthouse. It became the site of New York City?s Police Academy. Then in 1958, the Jefferson Market Library shut down completely.
The Jefferson Market Library has been neglected for many years and began to deteriorate and it entirely lost its original grandeur. A proposal was put forward to take down the structure. Fortunately, the residents of Greenwich Village saved it from being destroyed. In 1965, plans were already mapped out to convert the former courthouse into a division of the New York Public Library scheme.
The Jefferson Market Library was inaugurated in 1967 and its original grandeur was restored with imposing stained galls windows, breathtaking spiral stairways, fa?ade that looks like gem which critics say can transport visitors to another era and place.
The Jefferson Market Library is highly recognized for its massive compendium of books and other reference materials which center on the history of Manhattan, with a focus on the heritage of the quaint Greenwich Village where it is situated. The library also has an adult reading room and an expansive children?s room.