Saturday, January 15, 2011

[Resources] The Tombs

"What is this dismal fronted pile of bastard Egyptian, like an enchanter's palace in a melodrama?" - Charles Dickens, American Notes, 1842

The Tombs was a jail in New York City on lower Manhattan. Originally built in 1838 on a full block of the city to hold the police, courts and jail, the structure looked like an ancient Egyptian mausoleum and was designed for 300 prisoners.

It's official name was the New York Halls of Justice and House of Detention but it was colloquially called The Tombs. The building was replaced in 1902 (The Tombs II) and then again in 1941 (The Tombs III) and renamed the Manhattan House of Detention. The Tombs III finally was closed in 1974 and replaced with another jail, this one The Tombs IV.

The Tombs appears in popular culture and is a great resource for GMs with the history of jails in New York.

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