04/12/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Treasures on the East 25th Street Courthouse

One of my favorite buildings in Manhattan is the marble courthouse on 25th & Madison, home to the Appellate Division of the NY State Supreme Court. It's a charmingly compact building at only three stories high, completely dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers (I snagged this picture from Flickr user IneT, as the building was hidden in shadows when I shot it). Built in 1900, it's covered by some really interesting statuary and artistic flourishes.

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York

Two main statues sit in front, one representing Wisdom, the other (below), Force.

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The placard by his feet reads: "We must not use force till just laws are defied."

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I really love this statue because, if you look at his left hand...

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...You'll see that Force is holding back some sort of winged lion, which I can only assume is itching to go berserk raining justice down on various New York law breakers. Very cool touch, and it's a shame the fingers were broken off at some point.

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The other side, with a better view of the creature Force is restraining (thanks for the pic, Wally G!).

NYC: New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division - Force

Around the corner, you'll find what I consider to be the most moving Holocaust memorial in the city. With the inscription "Indifference to injustice is the gate to hell" ...

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..the sculpture simply depicts a raised map of the Auschwitz I concentration camp, with labels identifying a torture chamber, the execution wall, the gas chamber, the crematorium, and the commandant's house. It find it to be utterly chilling in its simplicity.

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Rising up from the sculpture is this column, covered in smoke and flames, and clearly reminiscent of a smokestack. A very appropriate addition to the building.

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If you're going to spend 45 minutes waiting in line at nearby Shake Shack (tourist!), you might as well take 5 to check out all the gems covering this building.


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PS - Interesting tidbit: many of the building's statues depict various iconic philosophers and religious figures like Plato and Moses. Originally, the building included a statue of Mohammed. However, this statue was removed in 1950 at the request of various Muslim groups, as any depiction of the Prophet is forbidden. Curious where the statue originally stood...

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