The Art of Jury Duty
I was called in to serve jury duty last week. No one likes jury duty, but I quickly realized that in New York jurors get a special treat. That is, if they are lucky enough to be held in jurors room 452 at 60 Centre Street.
The walls of this room are covered in beautiful W.P.A. (Works Project Administration) wall frescoes depicting various scenes of New York history. These scenes range from Lenape Indians watching Henry Hudson’s ship the Half Moon arrive in the Hudson, to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the East River, to a double decker bus with tourists driving past Rockefeller Center.
The frescoes were painted by several different artists, but all overseen by Attilio Pusterla. Pusterla himself painted the largest fresco depicting the Statue of Liberty keeping watch over the harbor. These beautiful paintings were part of the Federal Art Project of the WPA in the 1930s. The Federal Art Project was an effort to create work for artists. It succeeded in its mission and gave generations to come beautiful memories of New York past.
No matter how tempting, do not try and take a photo of the artwork in 60 Centre Street. I was admiring the beautiful art work and taking photos when a policewoman approached me and asked what I was doing. I said, “Oh, I’m a tour guide and am really interested in the history of the building so I’m taking photos of the art work.” The policewoman said, “Oh no you’re not” and escorted me out of the building. Sometimes, I learn lessons the hard way. Since I was unable to legally procure photos of the art for this blog, please visit the Historical Society of the New York Courts photo collections.