From Market to Jail to Garden
The original Jefferson Market was leveled in 1873 to make way for the Courthouse designed by Calvert Vaux, one of Central Park’s master planners, and Frederick Clarke Withers. In 1885, a panel of architects voted it the fifth most beautiful building in America.
In 1931, the Women’s House of Detention was built; its eleven stories towered over the courthouse, casting the sidewalks in shadow. Neighbors recall around-the-clock noise as inmates shouted from their windows to friends and visitors on the streets below.
In the 1960s, Greenwich Village residents organized to save the courthouse from demolition. They persuaded the City to renovate it for use as a public library and successfully demanded that the prison be demolished. Energized by this accomplishment, the community created a public green space in place of the women’s prison. A newly formed committee of local residents became its stewards, and in the spring of 1975, Jefferson Market Garden's first flowers bloomed.
Our garden is the creation of our community for our community and is open to all.
Read more about the History of Jefferson Market Garden and its neighbor the Jefferson Market Library.