This funky old redbrick castle at Vernon and Tompkins in Bed-Stuy was built for the Brooklyn Police Department as a station house for their 158th Precinct. Later an NYPD building, it most recently housed Traffic Unit F (this I learned from Forgotten NY's great page on former precinct buildings). Two gents on the opposite corner told me that it had been a police building but was abandoned "at the time of Martin Luther King." I took this to mean the late 1960s, when King's assassination spawned a massive wave of tension and rioting in predominantly black areas like Bed-Stuy, though I'm not sure whether these tensions led in any direct way to the realignment of precincts or abandoning of station houses by the NYPD. New York, after all, famously avoided a riot in the wake of King's death. What seems more likely is that shifting population and transit patterns (including the demise of the Els in Bed-Stuy I wrote about yesterday) rendered the Traffic Unit somewhat out of place.
The building currently sits in the 79th Precinct, which operates from a thoroughly modern cement and glass building just down the street at 263 Tompkins Ave. The original local precinct building still serves the community, however, having been rehabilitated by Services for the Underserviced, a supportive housing organization that targets children, adults, and seniors with mental and physical disabilities. The old station house is home to 40 adults, and is one of five buildings they operate in the neighborhood.
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