Bronx County

First Bronx County Courthouse, 1914
First Bronx County Courthouse 1914
The proximity to the train (right) disrupted quietude.

Melrose area, Bronx, NY

The first Bronx County Courthouse was built in 1914 at a cost of $2,000,000. It's currently located at E. 161st St. and 3rd Ave. The official present-day title is Bronx Borough Courthouse and it's also known as Old Borough Courthouse.

It housed the Supreme, Surrogate's, and County Courts of the borough until a new, much larger Bronx County Courthouse was constructed in 1934 (see below for the 1934 Bronx County Courthouse). The Bronx branch of the New York City Criminal Court remained in this location until 1977 when the city finally closed its doors that same year. The building has remained vacant since.

Bronx County Courthouse, 1934
First Bronx County Courthouse 1914
Bronx County Courthouse 1934
Present day

Grand Councourse & 161st St., Bronx, NY

The Bronx County Courthouse, a steel-framed building with a granite and limestone facade, was described by the Herald Tribune as a prime example of the "Twentieth Century American style", a combination Modern which was popular in Europe in the 1920s and 30s, and neo-classical. With a high-rusticated granite base and upper windows set in vertical ribbons with copper and nickel Art Deco style spandrels separated by limestone piers, it is the dominant feature of the Bronx Grand Concourse. A large flight of stairs leads to a columned entrance portico, in typical courthouse style. Built in 1933 during the Depression at a cost of $8 million, this public project provided much-needed work for architects, sculptors and construction workers.

The architects of the Bronx County courthouse were the European-trained Joseph Freedlander and Max Hausel, who collaborated on this one venture. Joseph Freedlander (1870-1943), born in New York and trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, was President of the Fine Arts Federation. Max Hausel, born in Switzerland in 1879, where he trained as an architect, emigrated to the United States in 1897. He worked with Michael Garvin, the Bronx architect who designed the Bronx Borough Courthouse in 1905. His austere classical style has had a major influence on Bronx civic architecture. Charles Keck, sculptor of figures for Columbia University and the facade of the Brooklyn Museum, designed the frieze above the base. It depicts the activities of man, with themes relating to agriculture, commerce, industry, religion and the arts. Adolph Weinman oversaw the creation of two pink marble sculptural groups installed at the courthouse entrances. Other sculptors whose work adorns the building include George Snowden, Joseph Kiselewski, and Edward Sandford, Jr.

The interior of the building includes arched marble entrances to the lobbies and vaulted elevator lobbies with bronze doors topped by pediments. All of the courtrooms have wood paneling with classical ornament, in a number of different styles and variety of wood types. In 1934, Mayor LaGuardia received a bronze key during the building's three-day dedication and celebration. The Bronx County Courthouse was designated a New York City Landmark in 1996 and is also listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Bronx Housing Court
Bronx County Courthouse 1934
Present day

Grand Councourse, Bronx, NY

The new ten-story Bronx Housing Court at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The $44 million state-of-the-art facility, located in the newly designated Special Grand Concourse Preservation District, houses thirteen courtrooms, judges' chambers and offices of the Clerk of the Court.

Joining the Mayor at today's ribbon-cutting ceremony were Judith S. Kaye, the Chief Judge of the State of New York, Jonathan Lippman, the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York, Luis M. Tormenta, Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and William Diamond, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

"Today's opening of the state-of-the-art Housing Court is a proud moment in the history of the Bronx," Mayor Giuliani said. "The new courthouse will restore a level of distinction and significance to Housing Court proceedings that was absent in its previous location. With its sandstone and roman brick facade, the facility is also a welcome architectural addition to the Grand Concourse Preservation District.

"But more than a new building, the Bronx Housing Court is yet another symbol of the borough's resurgence. New York City and the Bronx are doing better than they have been in years -- crime has been reduced to historic lows and jobs are returning. And now, the Bronx will now have a Housing Court for the 21st Century and beyond. I want to thank all the architects, designers and construction workers who labored so hard over the last few years to create such a spectacular structure. In particular, I would like to pay a special thanks to the team at the Department of Design and Construction for their supervision and oversight of this important project," the Mayor concluded.

The new 94,000 square-foot Housing Court was constructed on the site of the old Family and Children's court. Rafael Vinoly Architects, Severud Consulting Engineers, Syska and Henessy and Electronic Systems Associates all participated in the project.

Bronx Criminal Hall of Justice, 2007
Bronx County Courthouse 1934
Present day

161st Street, Bronx, NY

The first new criminal court building in the Bronx in a quarter of a century. The Hall of Justice is located on a three-block site on East 161st Street near Grand Concourse and houses 47 Supreme Criminal courtrooms and office space for related agencies, including the Department of Corrections and the New York City Police Department. As an added feature, the Bronx High School of Law, Government and Justice (a specialized public school for youngsters interested in careers in public service and the law) was moved to a site adjacent to the court complex in order to give students more exposure to the day-to-day workings of the court and better access to representatives of the justice community.

At the projects inception Chief Judge Kaye said, "I am so pleased to be joining the Mayor to inaugurate the start of yet another new court construction project. This new facility, a spacious building that will allow for the maximum efficiency in court operations, will ensure a dignified environment for decades to come. On behalf of the Judiciary, I would like to thank the Mayor for his continued support and cooperation in providing New Yorkers suitable, proper court facilities befitting the administration of justice."

The complex was designed by Rafael Vinoly, a Uruguayan architect whose work includes significant pulbic structures around the world. Though the building was intended to open in 2004, several factors including 9/11, a lawsuit and unanticipated construction hurdles delayed the opening until 2007.