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History

The story of Seward Park High School began with P.S. 62 Intermediate which was located at Essex, Hester, and Norfolk Streets. When P.S. 62 opened its doors in 1905, the Lower East Side was purported to be the most densely populated spot in the world. People of more nationalities lived here than anywhere else in the United States. Residents were eager to utilize the opportunities of public education as the city schools represented a gateway from the life of toil to which their parents had been confined in the "old country." To the parents of these children the schools were almost sacred institutions.

The students of P.S. 62 immediately began to excel academically. They also had a keen interest in athletics and PS. 62's champion basketball and soccer teams were the pride of the neighborhood for many years. The original student body of P.S. 62 were exclusively seventh and eighth graders. In 1916 a ninth grade was added making this one of the city's first junior high schools. Robert Brodie became principal of the school at this time and the school became known as Seward Park Junior High School. The school began a successful experiment with "rapid advancement" and pre-vocational courses.

In 1923 Seward Park Junior High became the first experimental junior-senior high school. This experiment lasted only a few years as the junior high school students were transferred to P.S. 65 (Charles Sumner Junior High School). The high school remained and the name was modified to Seward Park High School with Robert Brodie as principal.

When plans were made for the construction of the Sixth Avenue Subway, it became necessary to take down Seward Park High School's building. The site for the new school was chosen as the block bounded by Essex, Grand, Brooms and Ludlow Streets. On this site stood six tenements, P.S. 137, a street running from Essex to Ludlow Street called Essex Market Place, a Court House and the Alimony Jail of which Al Smith had at one time been the sheriff in charge. The former school site became Seward Park Oval on Essex Street which today is used for tennis, running and basketball.

Seward Park High School's new building was completed in 1929 and a new era began.

Ludlow Street Jail
Compliments of Ephemeral New York, January 2010

 

Opened in 1862 at Ludlow and Broome Street, the Ludlow Street jail was meant for civil rather than criminal offenders-many of whom could pay extra money and get better accommodations.

And those upgraded accommodations weren't bad. We're talking a reading room, grocery store, and cells with comfy beds and curtains. It looks more like a posh university club, according to the illustrations below.

Notable prisoners include notoriously sinister politician William "Boss" Tweed, sent to Ludlow on corruption charges. He died there as well.

There's also Victoria Woodhull, the first female candidate for president and a free-love advocate, who was accused of sending obscene material in the mail. She was found not guilty six months later.

The jail was also known as the "alimony club," since many "delinquent husbands" got sent there, as a 1925 New York Times article put it.

It was bulldozed in the late 1920s. On the site now: Seward Park High School.

 

 
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