For many years there was a women’s state prison in Chelsea, along the river. It closed in 2012 after it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. I think of this place whenever there’s talk about closing Rikers and opening smaller prisons in each borough. After researching Blackwell’s Island, (now Roosevelt Island) when prisons and other institutions were in operation there in the 19th century, I became very acquainted with the downsides of isolating prisons away from everyone else.
I can certainly understand not liking the idea of having a prison near you, but Bayview was in operation since the 1970s and most people didn’t even know it was there. It’s a beautiful building, and that’s because it was built in 1931, and it wasn’t built to be a prison. It’s first use was as a place for sailors to stay while their ships were docked in Manhattan.
A peek inside.
Another peek inside.
An indication that it was once a prison.
There’s a mural by Knox Martin on the side of the building, but you can’t see it anymore. It’s blocked by another building now.
The details on the side of the building are lovely.