A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 19, 2009
The Shack (police reporters area)

"The shack” is the name for the police reporters’ room on the second floor of One Police Plaza (built in 1973), near the Brooklyn Bridge. In 2009, the police department announced that the building would be renovated and that the reporters in “the shack” would have to move out.

The old Police Building (1909-1973) at Broome and Mulberry Streets was just opposite the original “shack”—a building and not simply a room. The three-story building at 4 Centre Market Place was built in 1940 and had colored lights so that reporters at the nearby Headquarters Tavern could be alerted to phone calls. The “shack” (officially called the Headquarters Press Building) acquired its nickname by at least 1943. It was essentailly a men’s club (there was always the smell of smoke around), and the reporters usually looked out for one another. When New York City had eight daily newspapers, about 20 reporters could be seen at the “shack.”

Newspaper reporters have had “shacks” near the New York City police department’s headquarters since 1863. Newspapers in other cities call them “cop shops.”


Wikipedia: One Police Plaza
One Police Plaza (1PP) is the headquarters of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). One Police Plaza is located on Park Row across the street from City Hall in downtown Manhattan near the Brooklyn Bridge. Its block borders Park Row, Pearl Street, and Police Plaza. It is sometimes called “puzzle palace,” a nickname originally used for the Pentagon building in Washington, DC. One Police Plaza replaced the former headquarters located at Mulberry and Broome Streets.

Description
Like the Boston City Hall, One Police Plaza is rectangular in plan and is an inverted pyramid in elevation. It is a 13-level, horizontally-oriented brutalist building designed by Gruzen and Partners in 1973. A 22,000 square foot expansion project is slated to be complete by 2011.

New York Architectural Images
Police Building Apartments Landmark
architect
Hoppin and Koen, apartment conversion 1988 Ehrenkrantz Group and Ekstut.
location
240 Center St. 
date
1909
style
“exuberant Edwardian Baroque” style
construction
55 Apartments 6 Floors

29 September 1940, New York (NY) Times, pg. 43:
PRESS BUILDING OPENED
Valentine Dedicates New Quar-
ters for Police Reporters

Police Commissioner Valentine officiated yesterday afternoon at dedication exercises for a three-story brock building at 4 Center market Place, which will contain the offices of the fifty-odd reporters assigned by their newspapers to cover police headquarters. The commissioner declared the building open after he had snipped a ribbon stretched across the front door.

To reporters the ceremony marked the realization of a dream, for they have been quartered for many years in a row of dingy tenements on Center (sic) Market Place. The new building, erected at a cost of $25,000, has fluorescent lighting, terazzo floors, steel casement windows and rose-colored tile showers. The money was raised by Theodore Prager, a reporter on The Daily News, and a group of his freinds.

22 March 1943, New York (NY) Times, pg. 16:
News Men to Be Honored
A bronze plaque in honor of sixteen newspaper men formerly assigned to Police Headquarters and now in the armed services will be unveiled at 3 P. M. today in the lobby of the Headquarters Press Building, 4 Centre Market Place.

29 April 1943, Soda Springs (ID) Sun, “Newspaper Man Stuff” by Walter Winchell, pg. 2, col. 5:
The reporters down at police H’quarters are the most colorful, we think...They “live” in a shack across the street from the gold braid cops...Life is a game of pinochle, a brass bell bonging a second alarm, a slip boy shuffling in with a suicide’s name and address or a phone call from the city desk to check on a rumor out of Washington that the Nazis are invading Turkey.

Google Books
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology
By Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). School of Law, American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, JSTOR (Organization)
Published by Northwestern University Press
Sept.-Oct. 1950
Item notes: v. 41
Pg. 368:
Their office is in a building behind police headquarters, at 4 Centre Market Place, familiarly known to all as “The Shack.”

6 July 1951, New York (NY) Times, “Murphy in Farewell Stresses Police Pay,” pg. 27:
They posed for news photographers and then visited police reporters in their “shack” at 4 Centre Market Place.

4 October 1968, New York (NY) Times, “100 Men Await Trouble in City’s Quietest Hours” by Robert D. McFadden, pg. 63:
Across the street is the press “shack.” The term is no misnomer. Police reporters work in a dingy, three-story tenement sandwiched in a row of shops that sell firearms, ammunition and other police equipment.

Attached to the facade of the press shack are a dozen lightbulbs, each of which flashed a different color when its corresponding telephone rings inside. The lights were once used to alert reporters who played softball and touch football in the street outside, but they are now only reminiscent of a bygone era.

With the dwindling number of newspapers in the city, there are hardly enough reporters left in the shack to get up a poker game, let alone a touch football match.

Moe Berman, who retired a few nights ago after 16 years as an Associated Press police reporter, noted: “I can recall when there were 15 or 20 reporters around here.” Now only The New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post, The Associated Press and United Press International station reporters at headquarters.

Google Books
A Day in the Life of The New York Times
By Ruth Adler
Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott
1971
Pg. 215:
Knight shares office space with reporters from other newspapers in a grimy, converted slum building in the shadow of Police Headquarters. Known as the shack, it is equipped with telephones, a fire radio, a police radio, and a bell hooked into the fire department’s alarm system.

6 October 1973, New York (NY) Times, “The Shack Closes as Police Reporters’ Home” by Marcia Chambers, pg. 25:
In the halcyon days of “the shack,” the late Robert B. Peck, the crack rewrite man for The Herald Tribune, one day took a story from one of the newspaper’s reporters, Joey George.
(...)
The shack, whose doors will soon close, lurks in the shadows of police headquarters, a dingy, three-story brick building, sandwiched between the gun shops that line the block. For the last three decades No. 4 Centre Market Place has been home to dozens of police reporters who have worked the shifts around the clock, covering the crimes and fires in the city.

New Quarters for Reporters
Within the next several weeks, the police reporters from The Daily News, The New York Post, The Associated Press and The New York Times, along with an occasional stringer or two, will move to a large brightly lighted room on the second floor of the police department’s new headquarters.
(...)
Police reporters rarely leave the shack to cover crime stories.

But in the early forties, there were at least eight dailies that sent reporters to sit in the shack “just in case” something should happen.

When something did happen, the police reporters would hot-foot it to the scene, later calling in their notes to a reqrite man who would put the story together in the newspaper’s city room.

8 October 1973, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), pg. 4, col. 1:
Police Beat for 68 Years
N.Y. Reporters Quit “Shack”

NEW YORK (AP)—Crusty reporters will bid a beery farewell Monday night to a ratty old building behind city police headquarters. To hundreds of newsmen, it has a history as lofty—though far from as sacred—as a cathedral’s.

They call it, fittingly, the “shack.”

For 24 hours a day since 1905, the three-story brick building at No. 4 Centre Market Place has been an office and home away from home for reporters for the city’s newspapers and national wire services.

To Move Tuesday
On Tuesday, the city’s 30,000-man police force will begin moving into a new $15 million headquarters a mile to the south. The police reporters will follow. The shack will be another vacancy on a street dotted with gun shops and police equipment stores.

Among the great writers who labored at the shack were social reformers Jacob Riis and Lincoln Steffens. Legend has it that Edgar Allan Poe and O. Henry once populated the seedy rooms.

2 November 1975, New York (NY) Times, “On the Track of Murder” by Fred C. Shapiro, pg. 284:
Ask any city editor the last member of a newspaper’s staff expected to report objectively on police conduct is the reporter on the police beat. It’s not reasonable to expect the men in the “shack,” as the reporters’ offices behind the old police headquarters on Centre Street came to be called, to come in with information likely to put their associates and drinking companions in an unfavorable light—and shut off their best sources of crime news.

Google Books
Sleep My Little Dead:
The True Story of the Zodiac Killer

By Kieran Crowley
Edition: reissue, illustrated
New York, NY: Macmillan
1997
Pg. 33:
Since the letter bore odd symbols and purported to be about murder, it was forwarded to police reporter Anne Murray at “The shack,” the Post‘s small office inside police headquarters.

Google Books
The Napoleon of New York: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia
By Harry Paul Jeffers
Edition: 2, illustrated
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons
2002
Pg. 175:
In the years ahead some reporters who hung out in rented space, known as the “shack,” behind and across the street from police headquarters, would fashion successful careers as crime reporters and authors of books because of the crime-busting, racket-smashing, gangland-pestering duet of an Italian and an Irishman who hated crooks, cheats, and chiselers.

Google Books
Tabloid Love:
Looking for Mr. Right in all the wrong places : a memoir

By Bridget Harrison
Published by Da Capo Press
2006
Pp. 20-21:
Tracy said he was Steve Marsh, who handled most of the stories involving the Shack, the Post‘s office at the New York Police Department headquarters, where three reporters were constantly posted to elicit on-record and off-record information from cops.

New York (NY) Times
Talk to the Newsroom: Police Bureau Chief
Published: October 12, 2008
(...)
So, when reporters call up seeking information — from the New York Police Department — that is public information, their phone calls land in a room on the 13th floor of police headquarters that is staffed mostly by cops at desks answering phones. That’s a policy the department has had. Reporters from the “shack” — the series of rooms on the second floor of the headquarters building where they are stationed — can simply take the elevator up. One reporter I know used to walk up. Another always walks back down. (How the word “shack” developed is another story). But any other reporters, from around the nation or the world, must reach into this nerve-center by phone. (Or these days they can e-mail, too.)

New York (NY) Observer
Ray Kelly Whacks ‘Police Shack’
By John Koblin
April 14, 2009 | 7:18 p.m
Are the city’s police and crime reporters about to get evicted from 1 Police Plaza?

If Police Commissioner Ray Kelly gets his way, they will.

Mr. Kelly sent out a note to news organizations this week telling them that due to construction, media outlets will have to leave the beloved “Police Shack” at 1 Police Plaza, and there’s no more space for them.

“By July 31, the Police Department must displace our Community Affairs Bureau and various news media from offices in Police Headquarters to make room for a new Joint Operations Center,” a letter obtained by The Observer reads in part.

The Joint Operations Center will occupy the second floor of Police Plaza, which includes the Shack, and the former fire station right next door.

New York (NY) Times
‘The Shack’ May Be Moving, but Its Stories Travel Well
By MICHAEL WILSON
Published: April 18, 2009
Most towns with a newspaper and a police department have a “cop shop,” a place where reporters go to gather information on crimes and arrests. Only in New York is it called “the shack.”

Always a news office, and in years past also a bar, betting parlor and dorm, the shack is the nest at New York Police Headquarters where a dozen or so reporters, assigned to competing news organizations but at times working as a team, cover crime and the people who fight it.

Collegial, masculine in spirit, if not gender, and challenged in all matters of hygiene, the shack crew has for 146 years lived in the midst of the police, sometimes in the basement, sometimes across the street in a set of very grimy offices that inspired the name “the shack.”

Today, the shack is a warren of little offices in a corner of the second floor of Police Headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. And its future — not for the first time — is in question. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly last week told the reporters for the news outlets there, including The Associated Press, The Daily News, The New York Post, The New York Times, Newsday, The Staten Island Advance, El Diario, NY1 News and 1010 WINS, to move out by August to make room for a new command center.

The Police Department is exploring where to move them, perhaps to a conference room, but the announcement troubled several generations of police reporters and their advocates. 

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