- John Reilly -
of another time"
"The house" pages are dedicated to the
memory of retired Det. 1st Grade John T. Reilly.
John served in the NYPD from 1955 to 1974 and was a noted NYPD historian who had a
special interest in the history of New York City
precincts. The Manhattan precincts were a
favorite of his. John freely shared his knowledge
of the old precincts for all to enjoy in these pages.
His knowledge and input to this web site was greatly appreciated and will be greatly missed.
The precinct station house was home
to the patrolmen and officers who worked out of it.
These ancient buildings with their red brick facades and peeling paint and plaster walls painted in various shades
of brown, tan and municipal green were also a bastion of safety and security to the neighborhood.
Adults and children seeking police services freely
came and went into these buildings. The 1960's and 70's changed that.
The buildings were too small and obsolete to meet the needs of a modern police department.
New precinct houses were built and many of the old fortresslike structures with their roof turrets were razed.
With the coming of the new buildings some precincts were abolished entirely, their confines consolidated into neighboring precincts.
Increased security became an issue because of open attacks on police officers.
Citizens could no longer enter "the house" and approach the high wooden desk as freely as they once had. These changes were necessary but somehow something was lost in the process.
On the following pages, arranged by borough, are some of those "houses" as they once stood
and as they stand today.
NOTES RE: Precinct Numbers- When examining police records there is probably no subject that is more confusing than that of precinct numbers.
In 1870 the precinct numbers were the same as the Ward numbers.
As the population of Manhattan increased a need for new police stations was created.
Some precincts in Lower Manhattan were abolished, their territory was then included into adjoining precincts.
As new precincts were created they were given the numbers of those abolished.
This created a confusing mixture of numbers resulting in no regularity of numbering for contiguous precincts.
For example in 1886 the 1st Precinct was located in the south area of Manhattan, while the 2nd Precinct was located at the north end of Manhattan at Highbridge.
Between 1870 and 1929 there was to be four general renumbering of police precincts, and a number of minor renumbering.
Since 1929 precinct numbers remained constant, but the boundaries and station house locations may have changed.
(Information courtesy of John Reilly, NYPD retired)
(POLICE NY note: renumbering of precincts occurred in all of the boroughs.
See "NYPD Collectors Corner" link on Favorite Links page for additional information and discussion on old precinct numbers.)
detail of Police Headquarters on Centre Street
photo by Gregor Wenda
The old Police Headquarters at 240 Centre Street
(converted into a luxury condominium)
Note: John Reilly, NYPD Retired has supplied the following information-
While the cornerstone for the 240 Centre Street building was
layed on May 6, 1905, and construction was expected to take
less that a year, it took over four years to complete building.
Infighting between Mayor McClellan and Police Commissioner Bingham
who kept insisting on changes delayed the construction and the
building was not opened until December 1, 1909.