Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York

A Love Affair with a Landmark in Manhattan: An Arresting Drama in Greenwich Village. [Opinions expressed are the views of OLD JEFF unless attributed to other - - potentially less-reliable - - sources, i.e., newcomers who have not been around since 1832 on Sixth Avenue.]

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Old Jeff: As I Lay Dying

"Deliberately! That gang at the N.Y. Public Library knew what they were doing -- and they did it that way deliberately," the blonde was telling her companions as they went their way along Sixth Avenue, toting goodies destined for the Village Info Senior Center on West 13th Street.

"What infuriates me," the redhead added, "was that the scaffolding was already up in 2003 when those library-sneaks were scheming: applying for another $645,000 grant from Capital Funds to re-configure the interior. And not one word in the library's application requested funding to restore the exterior. This library is hoarding millions of dollars in government grants and they're overlooking the fact that they are supposed to be the caretakers of a landmark. No, this is wrong, when the library doesn't give one thought to restoring the facade! Is the facade supposed to repair itself?"

The brunette was brief: "Every time I go to Jefferson Market Library, I am tempted to put up some signs." She spread her hands for emphasis. "Come in and read between the LIES."
Instead of reading between the lies, please be an informed and persuasive advocate for your branch library and landmark.
Express your thoughts about Jefferson Market Library.
PLA is a division of the American Library Association [at 50 E. Huron, Chicago, IL 60611].
ALA’s toll-free tel.: 1-800-545-2433; fax:312-280-5029; e-mail:

Ah, listen my children, and you shall hear a midnight tale of those we revere.
Once upon a time, there was a timepiece -- a noble four-dialed clock -- set high above the pavement in Jefferson Market Court in Greenwich Village. Fourscore and more it had offered accurate time-keeping to the neighborhood. In 1892, for instance, it had chimed the hour as the Mayor and hundreds of dignitaries and citizens were en route to Washington Square Park for the unveiling of a new triumphal marble arch designed by the architect Stanford White. This monument replaced a temporary portal raised to commemorate the centenary (1889) of George Washington’s inauguration as President.

A good clock it was and for eight decades [and then some] it had paced Village children to school. Old Jeff had urged steps to quicken towards the trolley or the train. Old Jeff had reminded those on trial inside the courtrooms that lunch break was nigh. Then, like many an octogenarian, Old Jeff slowed and (at last) stopped in 1957.

Silence aroused a public outcry, led by Mrs. Margot Gayle [of 44 West 9th Street] and Mr. Harold Birn [of 51 Fifth Avenue]. They had organized The Neighbors to Get the Jefferson Market Courthouse Clock Started. This energetic group petitioned Percy Gale, Jr., head of the city's Department of Real Estate, to get Old Jeff going -- ticking and tocking in time for the New Year: 1958.
[These efforts were reported in newspapers November-December 1957.]
To be continued . . . .

Jefferson Market.

Illustration: Mary Teichman 1991