Eldridge St Police Station


Vice, Muckraking, Rival Cats, Speakeasies…and a Flower Shop

Eldridge Stree Police Station

About Eldridge St Police Station

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • The building at 105 – 107 Eldridge Street served as the Eldridge Street Police Station from 1869 – 1912.
  • Built just 25 years after the official formation of the NYPD, the building stands out as one of the city’s earliest police stations, and one of its most notorious:
    • The force was still young, and the officers hadn’t really figured out the whole “policing” thing, but they were excellent at taking bribes.
    • They were known to make showy raids of downtrodden bars, opium dens, and brothels, but somehow, none of these episodes ended in actual arrests.
  • The station was also home to a women’s lodging room, which inspired Jacob Riis to write How the Other Half Lives.
    • The city had no shelter system at that time and police stations were one of the only places in New York where the destitute could find lodging.
    • Ironically, the police lodging houses were breeding grounds for crime and an affront to public health.
      • Riis’s photos of women sleeping on wooden planks on the floor of the Eldridge Street Police Station helped inspire reform.
      • When Teddy Roosevelt was Police Commissioner, he took to walking the streets at night with Riis to see the issues first-hand and was instrumental in closing the police lodging rooms and reforming the corrupt force.
      • Roosevelt was quite successful in making changes to the force until he tried to make it illegal to go to saloons on Sundays.
      • His career in New York promptly took a nose dive and he deftly moved on to Washington to become Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
  • In 1912 the Eldridge Street Police Station sold at auction and its officers moved to the nearby Delancey Street Station.
    • This (of course) led to a real and serious rivalry between the Eldridge Street and Delancey Street police cat mascots.
      • The Eldridge Street contingent was championed by a large white cat named Topsy; the Delancey crew followed a little cat named Buster… it appears that this town wasn’t big enough for both of them.
      • The New York Times reported that Topsy “successfully usurped” the “chief catship” of the station, while Buster spent “most of his time of late on the streets, picking up a precarious peddler’s livelihood.”
  • Meanwhile, back on Eldridge Street, the Police Station became a speakeasy.
    • For at least three years of Prohibition, from 1923-1926, Theodore Neckles ran a speakeasy out of the building.
    • This time a raid on the building did end in an arrest.
  • By the 60s, the police station had become artist studios.
  • Now, it’s home to The Flower Shop, a bar/restaurant hotspot.

Carpe City Trivia

Who was Jacob Riis?

  • Riis was a Danish-American journalist, photographer, and social reformer who pioneered the use of flash photography to illuminate and expose the squalid conditions that plagued impoverished and immigrant communities in New York City.
  • He began his career as a police reporter for the New York Tribune and became famous for his groundbreaking social photojournalism, documenting the deprivation of tenement life.
  • Though he is most famous for his 1890 book, How the Other Half Liveshe also exposed the condition of New York’s water supply and inspired the passage of the Small Park Act of 1887, which helped build parks in crowded tenement areas.

By: Lucie Levine

New York City Tours

Great Places Near Eldridge St Police Station

The flower Shop drinks lower East Side

The Flower Shop

Eclectic 1970's Rec Room Feel with Good Vibes and Proper Cocktails

107 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002
Wayla Lower East Side Thai Meatballs


Excellent Homestyle Thai with an Equally Awesome Outdoor Garden

100 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002
Attaboy Bar Lower East Side


Dark, Narrow, Clandestine and One of the Best Places for a Cocktail in the City

134 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002
Dirt Candy Restaurant Broccoli Hotdogs Carrot Sliders

Dirt Candy

A Vegetarian Tasting Menu that is Exciting Enough to Please Non-Vegetarians

86 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
James Fuentes Art Lower East Side
Art & Culture

James Fuentes

An Art World Tastemaker Born and Bred in the Lower East Side

55 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002
Ridley's Pink Department Store NYC Lower East Side
Art & Culture

Ridley's Department Store

Pink Paint and a Wild Cold-Case Surround this LES Landmark

319 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
Buff Monster World Pride Mural
Art & Culture

Buff Monster World Pride Mural

Because Who Doesn't Like Rainbows & Ice Cream?

127 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002
Lisa Project Broome St Mural Felix the Cat LES
Art & Culture

L.I.S.A. Project Murals

Festive Felix The Cat Mural by Crash BR163

328 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002
Fig 19 Drinks Lower East Side

Fig 19

Cozy Cocktail Den Hidden Behind an LES Art Gallery

131 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002

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