In an earlier posting on November 5 , 2009 we reported that on November 3, 1909 the criminal court building in Manhattan (bounded by Centre, Lafayette, Franklin, and White Streets) was declared unsafe for human occupancy and everyone in the building at the time was ordered to leave immediately. When the last man was out a squad of thirty policemen took charge of the building, roping it off on all sides and remaining on guard outside the building to forbid anyone to enter or even pass through any of the flanking streets”.
On March 2, 2010 for very different reasons the present criminal court building in Manhattan was evacuated due to smoke and water damage caused by an electrical fire in the basement.. When the last people were out, policemen, firemen and court officers took charge of the building and for a time did not permit anyone to enter the building except for business related to coping with the emergency situation..
As noted earlier there were many differences in the two events. By most accounts the old criminal courts building was in very poor condition by 1909. The present Criminal Courts buiilding is perfectly safe and in good condition with lingering smoke and other residual damage from the fire causing the building to remain closed until March 8.
We do not know how the courts, the office of district attorney, and other departments functioned during the evacuation of 1909; but by all accounts work continued quite efficiently during the present evacuation with many working in adjacent buildings and some using computers to work from their homes.
Let’s hope we don’t have another evacuation during the next one hundred years.