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Brooklyn Tourist Highlight: Historic Brooklyn Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn


Brooklyn Tourist Highlight: Historic Brooklyn Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn

Historic Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn, near Brooklyn Heights

Photo by Ellen Freudenheim

Take a peek at one of Brooklyn's architectural treasures: Brooklyn Borough Hall, near to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Thousands of people walk by it every day, on their way to work, school, or shop in the Fulton Mall. It's visible from the Brooklyn Marriott, and in the hub of Brooklyn's courthouses. It's home to Brooklyn's official annual Christmas Tree Lighting and many civic events, not to mention the fabulous annual Brooklyn Book Festival. Today, it is the headquarters of Brooklyn's Borough President. But in addition to all of that, it's a beautiful 19th century building, a reminder of Brooklyn's original roots as an independent city.

Brooklyn Borough Hall
, near the Borough Hall subway station in Brooklyn Heights is a designated New York City Landmark and is also listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Date Built: 1846-1851

Architect: Gamaliel King

Where It Is: on the north side of Joralemon Street, between Court and Adams streets.

What It Is: Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Borough Hall, the original City Hall, a 19th century building that housed the offices of the Mayor of the City of Brooklyn, the City Council, a jail and a courtroom.

Why It is Important: It houses the Brooklyn Borough President and is Brooklyn's oldest public buildings. It was the center of Brooklyn’s government when it was an independent city from its official incorporation in 1834 until it joined with the City of New York in 1989. This was the heart of Brooklyn for about fifty years.

Who Built It and When Was It Built? In 1835, a competition was held for the design of a city hall. The winner was architect Calvin Pollard. Construction was stop and start due to financial constraints and then a simplification of the original plan, attributed to Gamaliel King, a prominent Brooklyn architect also known for the 12th Street Reformed Church in Park Slope, and the Kings County Savings Band in Williamsburg.

Finally, Brooklyn’s own City Hall opened in 1848.

What Are Its Features? It’s an attractive Greek Revival style structure covered in Tuckahoe marble. Inside, a broad stairway leads to an elegant entry way marked by a half dozen fluted Ionic columns. What is visible today is a 1898 replacement of the original, which burned four years earlier in a huge fire. Presiding above the building is a lovely statue of Justice (some call it Virtue) that was part of the original plan, which was finally installed on top of the cupola in 1988.Inside, note the two-story rectangular rotunda, restored to its 1845 plans, along with the black and white marble floor.Not open to visitors is an ornate early 20th century style Courtroom complete with a domed ceiling, carved wood paneling, columns and decorative plasterwork.

The exterior of the building was restored in the 1980s, at the beginning of the renaissance of Brooklyn.

What's Nearby?

How to Get There?

Take the subway to Borough Hall station (23,4,5,N,R) or Walk the Brooklyn Bridge.

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