In 2019, New York City Council voted for a phased shutdown of Rikers Island, a massive correctional facility that first opened in 1932. Rikers Island is scheduled to be closed entirely in 2026.
Mayor De Blasio claimed that new soft-on-crime policies would significantly reduce the inmate population, and Rikers Island could be replaced with four small borough jails.
Now, in a dramatic turn of events, NYC is planning what would be the tallest correctional facility in the entire world. The skyscraper jail would be constructed at the current site of the Manhattan Detention Complex.
The Manhattan Detention Complex has been the location of a New York City jail since 1768. It was initially called Bridewell. Then the original facility was torn down and rebuilt as the Manhattan
Detention Center in 1838. In 1902 it was torn down and replaced by an eight-story building. In 1941, it was torn down and rebuilt again as a fifteen-story building. Currently, the Manhattan Detention Center primarily houses male inmates in pre-trial detention. The facility is conveniently located next to New York Criminal Court.
The current NYC plan is to tear down the fifteen-story building and build a new forty-five-story skyscraper that will dominate the neighborhood known as Chinatown. The project has a current budget of $2.3 billion.
Asian restaurants surround the current site of the Manhattan Detention Complex. Local businesses are protesting the move, saying it will be terrible for foot traffic and ruin businesses in the area.