I have been spending a lot of time at the Municipal Archives with the Tribeca Trust interns at 31 Chambers Street. The archives are in the Surrogates Court Building, a Beaux-Arts pile that is an official NYC Landmark. According to Wikipedia “the building was designed by John R. Thomas and built between 1899 and 1907. Thomas was credited with being the nation’s most prolific designer of public and semi-public buildings. He based his design on his award-winning plan for a new City Hall that was never constructed. Horgan & Slattery, an architectural firm with Tammany Hall connections, completed the project after Thomas’s death. The total cost was more than seven million dollars.” Wikipedia is making a nasty dig at Horgan and Slattery with the Tammany Hall reference. They were actually fine architects and did many a wonderful building in NYC, including 1 Hudson Street in Tribeca.
The interior is clearly modeled on the Paris Opera. There are many sculptures and charming decorative elements. I wandered around inside – nobody told me not to, although I was bizarrely cautioned not to take photos of the public art elements at the entrance. In any case, I took these pictures. A few of them are from the window of the Landmarks Preservation Commission while I was attending hearings. Check out the photo of an actual archive.