We are wrapping up our month-long celebration of American Archives Month with a post about the National Archives at New York City.
In 1950 the National Archives and Records Service (NARS), which was then part of General Services Administration (GSA), began a pilot Federal Records Center project. The original objective of the Federal Records Center was to provide a central depository for economical and efficient storage, maintenance, and servicing of inactive Federal records.
As part of this project, NARS secured warehouse space at the Brooklyn Naval Supply Activities Depot, located at 29th Street and 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, totaling 50,000 square feet. The Brooklyn FRC received its first records in May, 1950—the records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The building that housed the original Brooklyn FRC, pictured here, still stands—it is now the home of the Metropolitan Detention Center.
The New York Federal Records Center moved in 1952 from Brooklyn to what was known as the “Federal Office Building” located at 641 Washington Street in Manhattan—at the corner of Washington and Christopher Streets.
The FRC occupied 330,000 square feet of space on 10 floors of the Romanesque Revival structure.
Completed in 1899, the building was originally a United States Appraisers Warehouse; it is now luxury apartments named “The Archive.” The building is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.
In 1969 the National Archives established regional archives branches in 11 of its FRCs including the Washington Street building in New York.
In 1974 the Archives vacated the Washington Street property because it lacked sufficient fire safety standards. They began moving the Federal Archives and Records Center to the Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne, NJ.
The FRC was located in Bayonne until 1998, when the Department of Defense decided to close the Military Ocean Terminal. As a result, the New York FRC needed to relocate.
At that time the center housed nearly 1.2 million cubic feet of records from Federal agencies in the New York/New Jersey area, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Archives sent its nonclassified holdings to Kansas City, MO, and the classified records to the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD.
In 1992 the National Archives moved its Federal Archives from Bayonne to a new downtown location on Varick Street, not far from the Washington Street FRC location.
At Varick Street the National Archives occupied space on the 12th floor—with spectacular views.
In 2009 the National Archives began plans to move the National Archives at New York into the Alexander Hamilton Custom House Building at One Bowling Green in lower Manhattan.
The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House building was completed in 1907 and served as the Custom House for the port of New York until 1973, when the U.S. Customs Service moved to the World Trade Center.
In 2013, after months of delay caused by Hurricane Sandy, the National Archives at New York City opened its new research, education, and exhibition facility on the third floor of the Custom House Building.