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Tweed Courthouse 1881

by John Kellum, Leopold Eidlitz, 1809-1871, 1823-1908

Tweed Courthouse symbolizes the corruption of Boss Tweed and the Tammany Hall political machine. William Tweed led the political organization with the main goal of keeping the Tammany Hall politicians in power at various levels of the city and state government so that they would stay in power, ensure the city ran how they wanted, and make the political machine more money. The corruption manifested itself in the building’s construction; carpenters and bricklayers were overpaid with city money which then went back to Tammany Hall. Ironically, Boss Tweed was tried for corruption in this courthouse in 1873. Furthering the difficulties surrounding the project was the death of the project’s head architect John Kellum in 1871. Leopold Eidlitz took charge of construction and saw the project finished in 1881. The building went over its $250,000 budget and cost over $14 million. If this happened today, it would have been equivalent to over $170 million. The neoclassical building housed the New York County Supreme Court until 1929, then by the City Court until 1961. The building was unused for many years, but was landmarked in 1984. In 1999 the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle restored the courthouse. The total restoration cost $90 million, and it is now a school and houses the Board of Education offices.


1861 Construction begins
1872 Construction interrupted when corruption exposed
1877 Eidlitz resumes construction
1881 Eidlitz finishes construction, courthouse opens
1984 Designated a New York City landmark and added to National Register of Historic Places
1986 Designated a National Historic Landmark
1999 Underwent a $90 million renovation
2004 Element E sculpture added to courthouse for public display

Reference Links

wiki Tweed Courthouse
link A Look Inside the Tweed Courthouse
wiki Boss Tweed
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