Brooklyn Borough Hall

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Brooklyn Borough Hall
NYC Landmark No. 0147
Bk Boro Hall summer dusk jeh.JPG
Location209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Coordinates40°41′34″N 73°59′24″W / 40.69278°N 73.99000°W / 40.69278; -73.99000Coordinates: 40°41′34″N 73°59′24″W / 40.69278°N 73.99000°W / 40.69278; -73.99000
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
ArchitectCalvin Pollard
Gamaliel King
Architectural styleGreek Revival
NRHP reference No.80002630[1]
NYCL No.0147
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 10, 1980
Designated NYCLApril 19, 1966

Brooklyn Borough Hall is a building in Downtown Brooklyn, New York City. It was designed by architects Calvin Pollard and Gamaliel King in the Greek Revival style, and constructed of Tuckahoe marble under the supervision of superintendent Stephen Haynes.

It was completed in 1848 to be used as the City Hall of the former City of Brooklyn. In January 1898 the independent City of Brooklyn merged with the City of New York, and Kings County became the Borough of Brooklyn, at which time the building became Brooklyn Borough Hall.



In 1834, the year Brooklyn was granted its city charter, the land for Brooklyn's city hall was donated by the Remsen and Pierrepont families, whose names are commemorated in the names of Remsen and Pierrepont Streets in nearby Brooklyn Heights. The following year, New York architect Calvin Pollard won the commission to design the building in a contest held by the city. The foundations were dug and the cornerstone laid for this structure in 1836. However, financial hardship halted construction entirely.[2]

When funds again became available in 1845 construction resumed, this time of a structure designed by Gamaliel King, who had come in second to Pollard in the city's design competition, with instructions from the city that the new building must fit inside the already laid foundation.[2] King preserved many elements of Pollard's original design and intent, including its Greek Revival style, although the project was scaled down in size somewhat.[3] Construction was completed in 1848.


The Kings County Courthouse was built in 1868, turning this area – now known as Downtown Brooklyn – into a government center and busy area of commerce. In the 1940s, the Kings County Courthouse and other nearby buildings to the north were replaced by a complex of courthouses and a plaza in front of Borough Hall. A mall connects the building to Cadman Plaza Park.[4]

On February 26, 1895, waste paper caught fire and destroyed the cupola and the statue of Justice that stood atop it,[5] as well as the top floors of the building; water damage ruined the walls and ceiling of the Common Council chamber. Three years later, a new Victorian cast-iron cupola was built, designed by Vincent C. Griffith and the firm of Stoughton and Stoughton,[3][6][7] on which was placed a flag.[4] In 1898, the city of Brooklyn was consolidated into the five boroughs of New York City, and this building ceased being "City Hall" and became "Borough Hall". In 1902, the Common Council room was demolished to build a new courtroom, designed in the Beaux-Arts style by Brooklyn architect Axel Hedman.

Starting in the 1930s, there were numerous proposals to raze Borough Hall, based on arguments that it no longer performed any government function, that its architecture was not particularly notable, and that it was a monument to an extremely brief era in Brooklyn's history. In 1966, the building was designated a city landmark by the then-new New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 10, 1980.

In the 1980s, the building underwent a massive renovation under the supervision of Conklin & Rossant. The original copper shingling on the cupola was restored by Les metalliers Champenois, the same metalworks involved in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and the flag on the cupola was replaced by a new figure of Lady Justice.[4] The renovation was completed in 1989. In the mid 2010’s after a restoration of the plaza, became a popular known skate spot, renowned for its smooth surface. [6][7]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The sign from the opening credits of Welcome Back, Kotter that read "Welcome to Brooklyn, 4th largest city in America, Hon. Sebastian Leone Borough President" currently hangs in the lobby of Borough Hall.
  • Exterior shots of Borough Hall were used as the NYPD Headquarters for the fifth and final season of Mathnet.
  • South Korean boy group Seventeen filmed the music video for their song "Lilili Yabbay" in front of Borough Hall.
  • American performer Bill Shannon filmed a dance performance as part of the music video for "Work It Out", by electronic artist RJD2, in front of Borough Hall.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Nevius, Michelle & Nevius, James (2009), Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City, New York: Free Press, p. 76, ISBN 141658997X
  3. ^ a b Morrone, Francis (2001). An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn. Salt Lake City: Gibbs-Smith Publisher. pp. 39–44. ISBN 1-58685-047-4.
  4. ^ a b c Wilson, Suzanne J. & Spencer-Ralph, Elizabeth (July 1979). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Brooklyn Borough Hall". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved March 19, 2011. See also: "Accompanying six photos".
  5. ^ Gray, Christopher (June 7, 1987). "Streetscapes: Brooklyn Borough Hall; A Greek Revival Temple Fronts an 1848 City Hall". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  6. ^ a b White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot & Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 581. ISBN 978-0-19538-386-7.
  7. ^ a b New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009). Postal, Matthew A. (ed.). Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1.


External links[edit]