Walking to the Municipal Archives

Yesterday I put on 16,000 layers and lots of fleece and walked downtown to the Municipal Archives, where I’m doing research for a book proposal I’m working on. If all goes well I will practically live there for the next few years.

I get to Chambers Street and turn left towards the Archives. It’s not a pretty walk until you get to the end, when you hit Law and Order territory and all the City buildings. On the way though, it’s mostly Lots for Less type stores and it has a junky feel. I should look past the facades and at the buildings themselves. What were they used for 100 years ago?

Usually you see a lot of law enforcement and court workers coming and going, and people showing up for their court dates or jury duty. Yesterday, it was relatively empty.

I get to the Archives. That’s their building on the left, and through that arch to the right is One Police Plaza, where I spent some time researching my book about the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad. It’s like another country beyond that arch. I’d love to write more about the police, but the subject is just so … fraught. (Everyone who has ever had to cover the NYPD is probably smiling and nodding at my very careful word choice there.)

And now, here I am, in front of the Archives. It’s beautiful inside, but I’ve never once gotten a decent picture of it. I signed up for a digital photography course, so maybe I’ll learn something I can use to try again.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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