The Roosevelt Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn opened its 13th gallery exhibit on Monday depicting a “Photographic History of the NYPD” with pictures of our boys in blue going all the way back to 1845.
“We are very happy and and fortunate enough to have received on loan from the archives of the NYPD these fascinating photographs depicting the history of the famed department,” said Carol Bagley Amon, the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of New York.
It was back in 1845 when the NYPD was established with 800 uniformed officers patrolling the city for the first time. From there it tells the tale of the police department including the institution of the first police matrons in 1891, to the first female officers in 1918 all the way to a photo of the current commissioner William Bratton.
Bratton was on hand to check out the exhibit and to speak at the opening. He talked at length about being a fan of police history and pointed out a few of his favorites including one of the first police matron, a very large and tough looking woman, and a photo of the armed motorcycles with sidecars from 1929.
“I’m not sure who has more formidable armament,” Bratton joked. “She’s quite a formidable looking young lady.“
All kidding aside, Bratton pointed out a photo of the old police headquarters at 240 Centre Street, that was vacated in 1973, and noted that he preferred that building to the current 1 Police Plaza. He also mentioned a photo from 1873 of the first Medal of Valor.
“You might notice the 1873 Medal of Valor from when that was first commissioned,” said Bratton, a Boston native who is also a Red Sox fan. “The interlocking-NY might look very familiar because it has become more commonly known as the New York Yankees symbol, but effectively that symbol was first created by the Tiffany Co. for the NYPD and it predates the Yankees by some number of years.”
The gallery is named after Charles P. Sifton, who served as a judge at the courthouse from 1977 until he passed in 2009. It’s the 13th exhibit since the gallery opened and Bagley Amon said it is something that Sifton would have been very proud of.
“He was an artist at heart and it was important for our new courthouse to have a public space dedicated to the arts,” she said. “That was his dream.”
The gallery typically is stocked with works of art from local Brooklyn artists, however, Bagley Amon admitted that she wasn’t certain if any of these photos were taken by Brooklyn photographers or even if the officers were from Brooklyn. She did point out one important connection — one of the photos featured the grandfather of Eugene Corcoran, the courthouse’s district executive.
“John Corcoran had a distinguished career as a pilot with the Harbor Patrol,” Bagley Amon said. “It was said that he made many rescues. I’m sure that he would be happy to know that his grandson had a distinguished career in law enforcement including, most importantly, when he served as U.S. Marshall for the Eastern District of New York.”
The gallery is located on the first floor of the United States District Court, EDNY located at 225 Cadman Plaza East. It’s open to the public and there is no admission.
“It’s a wonderful display and I hope that people can take the time to walk through and look at each individual picture,” Bratton said.