Magazine article The New Yorker

The Prize

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Prize

Article excerpt

What to do with the Tweed Courthouse, which sits just to the north of City Hall, is shaping up to be one of the most contentious issues concerning a New York City landmark in some time. The courthouse is a sumptuous Anglo-Italianate palazzo with more than two dozen magnificent courtrooms arranged around a five-story octagonal rotunda topped by a colored-glass skylight. By the time it was completed, in 1876, the builders were more than eleven million dollars over budget, owing largely to kickbacks orchestrated by William Marcy Tweed, the corrupt "boss" of Tammany Hall. Tweed may have cheated the taxpayers, but he gave them something for their money--one of the finest public buildings the city has ever had. It functioned as a courthouse until the early nineteen-seventies, and later was home to a series of municipal offices. By then, it was in bad shape. The majestic entry stairs on Chambers Street were gone, the roof leaked, and the skylight was covered over. …

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