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Why is the Manhattan House of Detention Called the Tombs?

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Published on Jan 12, 2012

The New-York Historical Society and NYC Media, the official network of the City of New York, have partnered to produce a special series of one minute videos that feature the staff of the New York Historical Society as they answer some of the most captivating questions ever posed to them about the City's fascinating and unique history.

Why is the Manhattan House of Detention Called the Tombs?
The nickname hearkens back to the original jail at White and Centre Streets, an imposing Egyptian-style edifice erected in 1838 by John Haviland. While most likely inspired by the building's perceived resemblance to an Egyptian tomb, credit for the name remains in doubt. Although the original tomb-like building is long gone, the nickname is still used.

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