The wall installations are translations into Morse code of the following text, written by
Bill Claps, entitled “Lines on a Map of the City of New York”.
“Lines on a Map of the City of New York”
1863. 21st Precinct Station House, No 327 East 22nd Street. Italianate
structure, classical closed pediment, brownstone sills, openwork wrought
iron newel posts. Nathaniel Bush official architect for the NYPD. Gashouse
District, cheap tenements, the poor and the disreputable, thugs and crime-
ridden dives, Irish immigrant workers, Germans, Jews, and Italians.
Civil War rages in the South, headquarters for the 7th New York Regiment
battalion. Colonel Lefferts, “use all means he has ” to suppress all mobs and
1866. Gas House Gang terrorizes the area, looting and fighting. Saloons like
the “Rowdy Wall”, openly criminal behavior, police powerless, "The Gangs
of New York”
1868. Enter Police Officer Alexander S. Williams.
Clubs them mercilessly with his baton, at least one bloody confrontation per
day, tossing toughs through the window of the Florence Saloon.
“Clubber Williams”. His philosophy: “There is more law in the end of a
policeman’s night stick than a Supreme Court decision.”
1871. Police brutality, corruption charges. Clubber Williams promoted to
Captain of the 21st.
1874. Williams owner in a brand of whiskey that saloons were forced to
sell. $500 fees to open a house of prostitution, $30,000 per year for
protection. Lexow Committee convenes investigations.
Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt demands Williams’ resignation.
Clubber Williams retires with $1 million in the bank, a yacht on his $39,000
private dock, and a summer estate in Cos Cob, Connecticut…. Japanese real
estate he said.
1896. Tammany Hall. Charley Murphy is now leader of the 18th Assembly
district. Captain Smith attempts to defy Murphy and close his saloons on
Sundays under the Raines Law. “Put Smith on the boat and keep him there”
says Murphy. Smith transferred to Police Steamboat Patrol.
1901. More corruption. Businessmen host a dinner for new Captain Cooney,
$10 a plate, and present him with a diamond-studded badge.
1913. “Battleaxe Steve”, Captain Stephen McDermott: “Pretty tough
quarters around here…”.
37 brothels, 162 officers 9,500 arrests, most of any precinct in the city.
1953. CBS radio, “21st Precinct “, Writer-director Stanley Niss, 1953 to
1956. Everett Sloane plays Captain Frank Kennelly
Tagline of the show: 21st Precinct, “ It's just lines on a map of the city of
2013. “Gramercy Residence at Ungar House.” Functions as a foster care
group residence for LGBT teens. Goal is to allow them to function in the
urban community independently and successfully.
The future: Luxury condos.
The past: It’s just dots and lines on paper.