Department of Public Records Visitor Center Exhibits
See exhibitions featuring items from the New York City Municipal Archives and Municipal Library at the NYC Department of Records Visitor Center. The public records exhibitions feature items from within the department’s vast collection of documents, focusing on specific aspects of New York City history. Past exhibitions have included an Ed Koch exhibit, The Unbuilt City, Women Make History, Lomex, and Little Syria.
The visitor center is located in the Surrogate’s Court building in Lower Manhattan. The Surrogate’s Court was originally constructed as the Hall of Records, opening in 1907. The structure now houses the Department of Records, Municipal Archives, the Surrogate’s Court (handles probate and estate proceedings), and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Visitor Center is free and open to the public Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m..
If you have family history in New York City, the Municipal Archives are located in the same building and a great source of genealogical reference materials.
The Department of Public Records & Information Services publishes a blog featuring items within the archives and maintains an online gallery of thousands of historic images from it’s collections.
New York Today: Treasures of Chambers Street – a New York Times article, with video, about the Department of Records archives and exhibits.
Surrogate’s Court Building
The Surrogate’s Court building was designed at the height of the City Beautiful movement, which focused on monumental grandeur. Built in the Beaux Arts style, the structure has an ornate granite exterior and an elaborate marble lobby with a grand staircase and a series of arched balconies under a vaulted ceiling with mosaic inlays and domed skylights. The lobby is a popular site for special events and has been used as a filming location for several movies and television shows.
Take a look at Surrogate’s Court/Hall of Records video below. It’s part of the New New Landmarks Conservancy’s Tourist in Your Own Town series.
The address for the Surrogate’s Court Building and Department of Records Visitor Center is 31 Chambers Street. The building is located at the corner of Chambers and Centre Streets.
There’s no exterior sign for the visitor’s center, but the building, with it’s columns, statuary, and mansard roof, is hard to miss. Tweed Courthouse and City Hall are nearby.