All of these four-leaf clovers and St. Patrick’s Day decorations have us yearning for the lush, green Irish countryside dotted with ancient castles. It may surprise you to learn that New York City is home to a few castle-like structures of its own! Whether straight out of Rumplestiltskin or Harry Potter, these buildings offer a breath of fresh, medieval air and a reprieve from the city’s classic concrete structures and glassy skyscrapers. Check out our countdown of the top five castles scattered within New York City’s five boroughs!
321 Manor Road, Staten Island
With its Rumpelstiltskin-esque towers and crenelated recesses, The Staten Island Armory has stood proudly in Richmond County since 1926. More recently, the structure has become a symbol of Staten Island’s efforts to increase the validity of those landmarks that remain undesignated. It wasn’t until 2010 that the dignified castle reached landmark status! Today, this building retains its original purpose as a working base for the New York State Army National Guard.
271 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn
For those who live in between Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, a trip to the Post Office means a trip to this castle. The design for this limestone castle began in 1885, with the final structure’s completion following seven years later. Featuring arched windows, steeply pitched roofs, round granite columns and a square tower, the structure embodies the Romanesque Revival style and was remodeled in 2000.
425 Avenue of the Americas
Now a branch of the New York Public Library, the landmarked Jefferson Market building carries a storied past. Built in 1875, the architectural gem was designed by Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux in Victorian Gothic style, and was voted shortly after its completion as one of the top ten most beautiful buildings in America. Originally, it stood as a courthouse, garnering national attention during the infamous Girl in the Red Velvet Swing case in 1906, and later as a women’s prison and an outpost for the Police Academy.
West Kingsbridge Road
This statuesque building in the Bronx opened in 1913, and at the time reigned as the largest armory in the world. Decades later in 1996, the Kingsbridge Armory was turned over to the city and came to serve as a homeless shelter for ten years. Its next purpose will be potentially its most exciting one yet. Currently, plans are underway to redevelop the space into the world’s largest ice center complete with nine year-round ice rinks, and one with seats for up to 5,000 people. If all goes to plan, the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) would also contain 50,000 square feet of community space.
79th Street, Mid-Central Park
Overlooking the Great Lawn and Ramble, Belvedere is one of Central Park’s crowning jewels. Though it was originally constructed as a “Victorian Folly,” (a structure whose only purpose is to be pretty), the castle now serves as both an outpost for the National Weather Service and as the Henry Luce Nature Observatory. Although the castle recently closed its doors for a year-long renovation process, the space will soon be back in action for birdwatchers and passersby alike for years to come.