Lectures and Other Events

New York’s Legal Landmarks An illustrated talk by Robert Pigott

Robert Pigott

The crowd at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

The first building in New York City to function as a courthouse was the Old Dutch Stadt Huys at Pearl Street & Coenties Slip (New-York Historical Society)

The first U.S. Supreme Court was located in New York City at Lower Broad Street. The Royal Exchange Building (1790) used to be across the street from Fraunces Tavern.

The Magistrates Court building in Sunset Park, Brooklyn that first inspired Mr. Pigott to research more about New York City's courthouses.

November 12, 2014

Conservancy members attended an illustrated lecture by Robert Pigott at the law offices of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in East Midtown. Pigott’s new book, New York’s Legal Landmarks (A Guide to Legal Edifices, Institutions, Lore, History, and Curiosities on the City’s Streets) takes you on a tour of Gotham through the eyes of a history-loving New York City lawyer. It provides a detailed history of the City’s courthouses past and present with sites of sensational trials (both actual and in film), locations that figured in the nation’s constitutional history, law firms where great Americans practiced law and the homes, schools and final resting places of Supreme Court Justices.

Robert Pigott has been practicing law in New York City for more than 25 years. A specialist in non-profit law, he has worked in private practice and the New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau. Mr. Pigott got the idea for the book a few years ago when he was exploring the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn after he came upon a majestic building. The sign out front read “Community Board 7”, but over the entrances were engravings with the words “Magistrates Court” and Municipal Court”. Mr. Pigott had no idea what those courts were and was so intrigued by this forgotten building that he began researching New York City’s courthouses.

You can purchase the book on Amazon and it is also available in a few New York City bookstores: The Strand, The City Store in the Municipal Building, the gift shops at the main branch of the New York Public Library and the Museum of the City of New York, Book Culture in Morningside Heights, and Logos Bookstore at York Avenue & 84th Street.

Some of New York City’s courthouse buildings are open to the public; the Surrogate’s Court on Chambers Street is a beautiful start. Here is a video the Conservancy made about the building.