The Jefferson Market Branch, New York Public Library, still familiar to New Yorkers as Jefferson Market Courthouse, is located at 425 6th Avenue (SW corner of West 10th St) in Greenwich Village, New York City on a triangular plot formed by Greenwich Avenue and West 10th Street. The building was originally built as the Third Judicial District Courthouse between the years 1874-1877 from a design by architects Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux. Faced with demolition, public outcry led to its reuse as a branch of the New York Public Library.
A tall octagonal wooden fire lookout tower was the first building on the site, built circa 1833, located in the center of the merchants' sheds at the Jefferson Market that had been established at this site in 1832 and named for the late President. Court sessions were held in the Jefferson Assembly Rooms that rose above the market sheds.
The wood tower and the market structures were swept away for a new courthouse, an adjacent jail building that stood on the corner of West 10th Street and Greenwich Avenue and new coordinated market housing (built in 1883). Of the carefully massed picturesque group, only the former Courthouse now remains. Its polychrome materials-red brick, black stone, white granite, variegated roof slates-are typical of the "Ruskinian gothic" aesthetic of Calvert Vaux's first ranges for the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the 1880s a panel of American architects voted the complex the fourth most beautiful buildings in America. The eclectic ensemble was inspired by Venetian Gothic details and featured stained glass windows and a four-sided clock tower.