Bronx Borough Courthouse

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark


ARCHITECT: Michael J. Garvin

DATE: between 1905 and 1915

STYLE: Beaux-Arts

The Bronx Borough Courthouse, occupying a prominent site on 161st Street between Brook and Third Avenues, was built between 1905 and 1915. Designed by Michael J. Garvin, a local architect, the courthouse is a fine example of a classically-inspired Beaux-Arts style civic structure. Built to serve various borough courts, the courthouse also came to symbolize the county status which the Bronx achieved in 1914. The Bronx was one of the last boroughs to be developed.

The area was primarily farmland until the 3rd Avenue El reached 169th Street in 1888 and rapid urbanization began.1 In the early 1860s the site of the Bronx Borough Courthouse was apparently an open 11 Square” with only a shed and watering trough in the middl~. On the edges were low-scale brick and wood frame structures used mostly as homes, boarding houses, and hotels.2 By 1888 the courthouse site was covered with small wood-frame buildings. Just a block south at 160th and 3rd Avenue stood the Morrisania Town Hall which until 1905 doubled as a police station.

By 1900 the Bronx was the fastest growing borough; the once rural area now had a population approaching 500,000. A small brick building which housed the Civil and Police Courts was located on the southeast corner of 158th and 3rd Avenue. This soon proved to be inadequate and it was determined that a new courthouse was needed for the Municipal and Magistrate’s Courts and the Coroner’s Office, and the 161st Street site was ultimately agreed upon. Construction funds of $800,000 were appropriated in 1904. Construction began early in 1905 and it was thought that the building would be complete within two or three years.3

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

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The only borough contiguous with the mainland of the United States, the Bronx was named for Jonas Bronck who established a settlement in the area in 1639. The Bronx’s main thoroughfare, the Grand Concourse, was conceived as part of the City Beautiful movement. It was...

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