Sunday, March 13, 2005
Francis Criss: Jefferson Market
One of the more curious paintings of New York's Jefferson Market Court is by Francis Hyman Criss (1901-1973).
An alumnus of the Pennsylvania Academy, Francis Criss is largely under-recognized today, despite his significant contribution to the American modernist movement of the late 1920s and 1930s. Blending Precisionism and Surrealism in a distinct and provocative style, perhaps Criss deserves a renewed appreciation and a position among the notable American painters of his time. This canvas may have been executed during his most prolific years [1928 - 1939].
* * * Here's a description of this building in Italian:
JEFFERSON MARKET COURTHOUSE
425 Sixth Avenue (& 9th St.), NY 10011
* * * Costruito tra il 1874 ed il 1877, sulla base del progetto degli architetti Frederick C. Withers e C. Vaux (quest' ultimo disegnò anche, insieme a F. L. Olmsted, la pianta di Central Park), l' edificio era uno dei migliori esempi di stile gotico vittoriano ed era considerato uno dei dieci edifici più belli degli Stati Uniti.
La sua funzione iniziale fu quella di ospitare il palazzo di Giustizia con adiacente una prigione, una stazione dei vigili del fuoco ed un mercato. La torre è stata utilizzata come punto di osservazione per avvistare gli incendi. Le torri erano molto diffuse fino a quando non furono introdotti gli allarmi antincendio elettrici.
Nel 1967, dopo aver rischiato la demolizione, l'edificio è stato ristrutturato sotto la supervisione dell' architetto Giorgio Cavaglieri ed ora ospita una parte della New York Public Library. L'orologio che si trova sulla torre è detto Old Jeff.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Innocent Jailed in Jefferson Market 1931
COURT NEWS. 1931.January
Brooklyn Daily Standard Union
29 January 1931
Girl Jailed Without Trail For Staying Out Late
Freed After Serving 18 Months
400 Similar Cases, Judge DIKE Told In Court
After she had served eighteen months in Bedford Reformatory - although she was only sentenced for a year - Lena BURLATT, 17, of 174 Keap Street, was set free and a charge of being a wayward minor was dismissed by Justice Norman S. DIKE, who sat in Supreme Court, today as a committing magistrate.
Lena was one of forty-nine girls taken to the Jefferson Market Prison
from Bedford recently after it had been found that many of them had been sent there illegally. When the others were taken back her counsel, Bernard AUSTIN, obtained a writ of habeas corpus, keeping her in the city until a decision on the propriety of her detention could be made by the court.
COURT MADE NO RECORD
After considering the matter during the night, Justice DIKE decided that he had the power to sit as a committing magistrate. He expressed astonishment at the fact that the girl was not only charged with nothing more serious than being out late at night, but that she was sent to Bedford without a hearing and that no stenographic record of the procedure conducted by Magistrate Leo HEALY, who committed her from Adams Street court, existed.
Lena was just 16 on July 1, 1929, when her mother had her taken to Adams Street court. Lena pleaded guilty, the commitment showed, and on July 20, 1929, she was sentenced for a year.
At the outset, Assistant District Attorney Henry J. WALSH said to the court: ''The District Attorney of King County does not want to do anything to impede justice in this or any similar case and I state now for the record that if it can be shown, and I believe it can, that this girl has a home to go to, we have no objection to sustaining the writ and freeing the girl.''
''I congratulate the District Attorney and you, Mr. WALSH,'' Justice DIKE said. ''You show a broad minded conception of fair play and justice. I feel a grievous error has been made by the magistrate who sent this girl away, so I shall try this case now and attempt, if possible, to right it.''
At that point Mrs. BURLATT, Lena's mother, was called to the stand. She was questioned by Bernard AUSTIN, Lena's counsel.
''Are you the mother of Lena BURLATT?
''Do you wish to press a complaint against her?''
''Have you any grievance or any complaint against this girl or to make against her?'' Justice DIKE interrupted to ask:
''You said she kept late hours, did you not, in the magistrate court?
Mrs BURLATT gave a deprecating shrug of the shoulders, and Justice DIKE asked: ''This girl was attending high school?''
''She was, and she was graduated from Junior High School at fifteen. Then she went to Textile High School.''
''You don't want to prosecute this girl now, do you?'' AUSTIN asked.
''As a matter of fact you never did intend to prosecute her or have her imprisoned, did you?''
''What transpired at the hearing?'' interrupted Justice DIKE.
''There was no hearing, may it please the court,''Austin interjected.
Justice DIKE leaned over the bench. Looking over the top of his glasses, he said: ''Do I understand you properly? There was no hearing?''
''There was none, your honor,'' Austin said. ''I now move for a dismissal of this case. There was no evidence before and your honor, of course, has heard none now, against the girl.''
''It seems to me as though the situation might well be corrected,'' the court replied.
''It is the duty of the State to protect its minors and I can do nothing better than to quote from a recent opinion of my esteemed contemporary and associate on the bench,'' Justice HAGERTY, who said: ''The law is not only just in the protection of civil rights, but has a special regard for the rights of minors. I shall discharge the prisoner and I again congratulate the District Attorney on his attitude. If this decision is right, and I hope it is. I trust that it will have an important bearing on the cases of others who doubtless are illegally detained and who have been illegally and improperly imprisoned.
''Are there many such cases, do you think?'' Justice DIKE asked, turning to AUSTIN.
''There are about four hundred,'' AUSTIN replied.
''Pitiful, pitiful,'' the court said.
= = =
Brooklyn Daily Standard Union
= = =
Oil painting: artist Sonia Brewin: Jefferson Market Tower 2005
Jefferson Market Jail Welcomes Mae West
On February 9, 1927, actress Mae West was arrested, fined, and jailed overnight in Jefferson Market Prison on Sixth Avenue and West 9th Street in Manhattan.
The play Courting Mae West covers these true events during the 1920s.
There is much more to come. . .
Illustration by artist Michael DiMotta