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.]

Friday, March 31, 2006

Dr. Sanger's arrest: April 1929

• • 15 April 1929
• • New York City
From MARGARET SANGER's DIARY: Early in the morning of April 15, 1929, the telephone in my apartment rang, startling me. I was pretty nervous, having been up all night with Stuart, who had mastoiditis. His temperature was running high, and he was suffering with terrible, indescribable pain.
• • I took off the receiver. "Hello. This is Anna. The police are here at the clinic." Briefly she related how they had descended without warning, stamped into the basement, and were at the moment tearing things to pieces. . . . With this meager information pounding through my brain I hastened to the street, hailed a taxi, and urged the driver to go as fast as he could to West Fifteenth Street. The shade to the glass door was pulled down; the door itself was locked. I knocked and a plain-clothes man of the Vice Squad opened it.
• • "Well, who are you??"
• • "I am Mrs. Sanger and I want to come in. . . ."
• • Only a few moments ago a visiting physician from the Middle West asked one of the nurses whether we ever had any police interference. "Oh, no," the nurse cheerfully replied. Those days are over now.
• • Stocky Mrs. Sullivan, head of the City Policewomen's Bureau, was superintending the raid in person. Her round, thickset face might have been genial when smiling, but was terrifying when flushed with anger. She was giving orders to her minions in such rapid succession that it seemed impossible to keep pace with them. I tried to talk to her, asking why she had come and what it was all about.
• • "You will see," said Mrs. Sullivan, and went on directing the patrolmen who were removing books from shelves, pictures and diagrams from walls, and sweeping out the contents of medical cabinets. In their zeal, I noticed they were seizing articles from the sterilizers, such as clothes and medicine droppers, having no sinister significance whatsoever. They were also gathering up the various strange, weird devices patients had brought us to inquire as to their efficacy, and which we exhibited as curios. . . .
• • It ran through my mind that dire misfortune could follow in the way of being blackmailed by anyone obtaining the records.
• • I requested Mrs. Sullivan to show me her search warrant, and saw it had been signed by Chief Magistrate McAdoo. . . .
• • One of the policemen scooped up all the name cards and stuffed them into a waste basket to be carried off as evidence.
• • This was a prime violation of medical ethics; nothing was more sacred to a doctor than the confidences of his patients. Immediately Anna telephoned Dr. Robert L. Dickinson at the Academy of Medicine that the police were confiscating the case histories of patients and asked him to recommend a lawyer. He suggested Morris L. Ernst, whom Anna then called.
• • Doctors, nurses, and evidence were being hustled into the street. The patrol wagon had arrived, but I summoned taxicabs in which we rode to West Twentieth Street station. On the way I heard part of a the story, which accounted to my non-arrest. . . .
• • Dr. Stone, Dr Pissoort, and the three nurses were booked for violation of section 1142, though I attempted to explain the clinic had been active for six years quite legally under the exception, Section 1145.
• • At Jefferson Market Court, to which we next traveled, Magistrate Rosenbluth looked over the warrant and ordered a three-hundred-dollar bond for each. . . .
• • Justice McAdoo, aghast and horrified to find that, without reading it, he had signed his warrant, just one of many laid on his desk, had called up the police station without delay, saying that all 24 medical histories must be put in his safe and kept there until he arrived in the morning. He had perceived instantly that those doctors' records were going to be a serious embarrassment. . . .
__ ___
Add to Google

• • Photo • Margaret Sanger • 1929 •

Jefferson Market.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jefferson Market: March 1927

It was March 1927 and the trial at Jefferson Market Court House on Sixth Avenue was attracting bigger crowds than Broadway shows.

Each day the dailies reported on the dramatic trial in Greenwich Village. By late March it was getting to be obvious that the outlook would be dark for actress MAE WEST and her co-star BARRY O'NEILL, who were being tried for presenting an obscene play "Sex" at Daly's 63rd Street Theatre. [This play had been seen by the public for the past 10 1/2 months before the raid on 9 February 1927.]

• • Though this play had been approved by TWO play juries and had a license from the police department, it was coming up to be an election year and Mayor Jimmy Walker was being pressured by The Society for the Suppression of Vice to "clean up" the stage.
• • What were the dirtiest words on the Rialto? Looks like they were MAE WEST.
__ ___
Add to Google

• • Photo • Mae West • March 1927 on trial • Jefferson Market Court
• • Illustration • Mae West • by Michael DiMotta

Jefferson Market.

Monday, March 27, 2006

6th Avenue Inspiration Onstage

What switches on inspiration's ignition? For Greenwich Village dramatist John Guare, who was walking on Sixth Avenue and 9th Street, a glimpse of a convicted murderess being led into the Women's House of Detention in 1968 spun a synopsis into being. Remember Alice Crimmins from Kew Gardens? When the two children of Alice Burke Crimmins (born 1938) were nabbed and killed, police fingered her as their suspect. After the guilty verdict in 1968, she was taken to the Women’s House of Detention when she was hospitalized. From 1965-1977, the case grabbed headlines and fueled a flood of titles.
• • “Landscape of the Body,” John Guare’s Crimmins-inspired play with music and a Greenwich Village setting, opened at the Public Theater in 1977. His play is back onstage in Manhattan now [details below].
• • During the same year, Neal Bell’s dark two-character Crimmins-fantasy “Two Small Bodies” was staged; in 1994 Beth B made it into a film.
• • Two true-crime bestsellers appeared: George Capozi Jr.’s “Ordeal By Trial” (1972) and Kenneth Gross’s “The Alice Crimmins Case” (1975).
• • Two novelists weighed in. “The Investigation” by Dorothy Uhnak appeared. Another thinly veiled fictionalization of the case, “Where Are the Children?” by Mary Higgins Clark, her first published mystery, launched her prolific career in that genre; in 1986, a movie of the same title starred Jill Clayburgh.
• • In 1978, Tuesday Weld starred in a made-for-TV movie, “A Question of Guilt,” based on the Crimmins affair.
• • • Landscape of the Body • • •
• • Michael Greif directs John Guare's Landscape of the Body, starring Lili Taylor and Sherie Rene Scott.
• • What are we after we lose everything? 1970s Greenwich Village hosts a slew of mysterious and seemingly isolated events that connect a group of people on a nightmarish quest for the American Dream. Through twists in time and with some help from a singing narrator back from the dead, John Guare weaves an amazingly entertaining tale of their tragic and comic collisions that force them to discover what it is like to be left with - - or blessed with - - nothing but themselves.
• • Landscape of the Body contains strong language and adult themes.
• • Signature Theatre: Peter Norton Space - 555 West 42nd Street
• • Tickets: 212-352-3101 * Info: 212-244-7529
• • Opening Date: 16 April 2006
• • Previews Start: 28 March 2006
• • Closing Date: 21 May 2006
__ ___
Add to Google

• • Photo: Alice + Edmund Crimmins during trial • Queens County •

Jefferson Market.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Police Inspector George W. Dilks 1893

In July 1893, when retirees George W. Dilks and his wife Mary celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at their home on 34 West 9th Street, well-wishers included the Consul General of New York's Chinese Consulate [26 West 9th] and his ministers as well as distinguished officials of the Fifteenth Ward.
• • When married on West 13th Street in 1843, George W. Dilks had been a printer. But soon afterwards Dilks joined the police force, becoming Captain in 1853 due to his commendable dealing with many of the most vicious gangs of New York such as the fearless Dead Rabbits. In 1860, following his management of the Draft Riots, Dilks was promoted to Inspector.
• • Well-regarded by the Fifteenth Ward and a constant figure at Jefferson Market Court, the fascinating Dilks deserves more mention than he has received in these pages.
• • In those days when the Fifteenth Ward Hotel commandeered the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 9th Street, the neighbors spoke proudly of Mary and George Dilks. More anon.
__ ___
Add to Google

• • Photo: Jefferson Market Court's Police Chief • in 1893 •

Jefferson Market.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Jefferson Market: 1939 No EL

In 1939 during the height of the Depression, this is the way that Jefferson Market Court looked - - with a clear expanse of Sixth Avenue fronting it, and a black and white West 9th Street signpost perched to the side.
• • The Sixth Avenue El saw its finale in 1936.
• • Moving northward along the avenue, a pedestrian could see advertisements for Globe Electric Sign Corp. and Premier Artificial Flowers, Inc. in the near distance.
__ ___
Add to Google

• • Photo: Jefferson Market Court • in 1939 •

Jefferson Market.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Time and What It Does

Has it been a decade since he had a fatal heart attack at his New York home? Yes, it has.
• • Former NYU professor and Greenwich Village resident, Joseph Brodsky [24 May 24 1940 – 28 January 1996] won the Nobel Prize in Literature (1987) and was chosen Poet Laureate of the USA (1991-1992). For years the poet and essayist lived on Morton Street.
Brodsky Quote: “There is only one subject that matters to me: TIME and what it does to a man.”

• • Polish-born poet Adam Lizakowski mentions Jefferson Market Court in this tribute to the Nobelist.
Joseph Brodsky returns to Russia

In the span of one day
I sold two books of Brodski's poems
which had been on my store's shelf for many months,
yet I never realized
that the poet's death had helped me sell the books.
The Russian poet and immigrant, who for many years had lived
in that hub of freedom, Greenwich Village,
among artists and homosexuals, has passed away - -
the old rabbit who once fled the ubiquitous
hunting dogs of the worker's union
from the statue of Peter I in Leningrad
to the Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York.
As a boy of seven, he already knew many of life's truths - -
that deceit is more useful than algebra,
that even three brilliant communists really aren't so smart,
that poetic talent is a gift from God.
Since the old days, his life at stake, he'd played chess against Death
yet Death caught him off-guard,
sent an icy telegram to Russia
where, in short, the after-life is beautiful;
the homeland is the homeland (even when not beloved)
and now, with obituaries written in Roman type,
America bids him farewell
while Russia greets the poet in Cyrillic:
Joseph Brodski returns to Russia, his true home...
words uttered by the lips of young poets -
in the midst of political upheaval
the black notices appearing in the most popular newspapers;
the immigrant's journey has come full circle,
and in Saint Petersburg someone with a beautiful name
goes out for a walk, wanting to reminisce a little
to consider the future:
now it's certain, Joseph will stay here forever,
never again able to leave.
• • BY: Adam Lizakowski [born in Poland in 1956] • •
__ ___
Add to Google

• • Photo: • Joseph Brodsky in Greenwich Village •

Jefferson Market.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jefferson Market: Busiest Court in Town

When Jefferson Market was the busiest court in town, reporters frequently congregated there to sketch the magistrates, the trials, the criminals, and the local color.
__ ___
Add to Google

• • Sketch: • Jefferson Market • 1897

Jefferson Market.