Harlem Courthouse

170 East 121st Street
Thom & Wilson

Originally built to house one of the city’s Municipal and Magistrates Courts, this building once contained roughly 40 jail cells. The court was decommissioned in 1961, and the building was transferred to other city agencies. In 2002, it became the Harlem Community Justice Center, where family, housing and small claim civil cases are heard in its third floor courtrooms. The magnificent structure was designed in the Romanesque Revival style with Victorian Gothic details, abounding in colored brick, bluestone and terra-cotta ornament and arched windows. The most striking feature is the bronze spire-capped corner tower, whose octagonal belfry contains gabled arches enframing clock faces on some and circular windows on others. The interior contains two murals painted in 1938 by Works Progress Administration artist David Karfunkle. The murals were covered by drapery and severely damaged until their restoration in 2014.

The Harlem Courthouse is a designated New York City Individual Landmark and listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.