Eldridge Street Jail opens

Eldridge Street Prison; The New York County Jail


The New York County Jail, better known as the Eldridge Street Jail, started out as a three-story private home was a first a school and then city watchhouse, and eventually converted to a jail.Housed in a three-story structure made of brick. The building featured three front windows covered with “outside iron blinds set at an angle upward, so as to let in some light”. These gated windows are visible in the print of the jail above. The jail lot also housed an additional rear building, just one-story tall. Not surprisingly, the jail was an unpleasant and undesirable tenant on the block and in the neighborhood. Concerned citizens and city reformers tried to introduce changes. In 1854, a reformer began a campaign to install a free library in the jail. The library was finished within a year with the help of donations made by several generous New Yorkers. Even still, many citizens were incensed by the jail`s heinous conditions. Letters to the New York Times detail the dirty, crowded conditions that the prisoners endured. In 1859, a city jury declared the jail a city nuisance. This was due in part to the low fence in the jail`s backyard which allowed for regular escapes from the grounds. The neighborhood was growing weary of the jail`s blight on the block. In 1867, the building was leased to a private citizen named John Connolly. The jail structure was demolished by this time, and replaced by a new jail on Ludlow Street.

Opened, 1836
Converted, 1862

Related Sites
Ludlow Street Jail- The jail structure was demolished by 1867, and replaced by a new jail on Ludlow Street.