It’s hard to enforce the law when the police department has fallen in on itself. This describes the unfortunate fate of the castle-like structure on the corner of 4302 Fourth Avenue, once Sunset Park’s proud 68th Precinct.
Completed in 1892, the building was inspired by the Byzantines and designed by Emile Gruwe to look intimidating, so that, “a man about to commit a crime would stand appalled at the sight of a station house such as this”. There’s a now decrepit stable for horses in the back, currently obscured by graffiti and decay, yet the exterior has somehow remained intimidating over the years.
Forsaken by the cops in 1970, the building has bounced back and forth between local community groups - namely the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association and the Sunset Park Music Music Group - as the city puts the not-for-profits in a bind for restoring the building, burying them in fines for not renovating as they continue to request grants to fix the structure.
Today the looming hulk is home not to justice but feral cats, teenagers, crime and plenty other shenanigans. Fire and time have completely gutted the interior - it’s a 3 story collapse! The only way to the backside of the building is to walk across precarious beams, all that remains traversing a 10 foot drop into the basement. The roof is visible from the main floor, the upper floors accessible only by scaling the building and crawling through the windows.
It’s truly a wreck, which is really a pity, because it’s clear even from the rubble that the space was built with care and respect. Landmarked in 1983, it’ll take a whole lotta money to bring this baby back to working condition.
Update February 2018: The Precinct is now under construction.
Update December 2021: The salvageable portions of the building have been stabilized prior to the construction of a public elementary school that will wrap around and incorporates the former precinct house. The New York City School Construction Authority currently anticipates that P.S. 557K will open to students in September 2023.