Two ways to get inside 31 Chambers – virtually

It isn’t easy to get inside 31 Chambers, the Department of Records building (aka Surrogate’s Court) on the corner of Centre, and you are not allowed to take pictures in there so when I was asked to pick something up there at the Municipal Archives, I snuck a few shots and it was so worth it. (Note that while the public is not allowed in, TV shows are!) The place is amazing, and even the few framed pieces on the walls contain tidbits of NYC history that are so arresting — I could have hung out for a while just in the basement hallways.

But you can sneak a (virtual) peak this fall with two programs on Zoom — but capacity on Zoom is limited, so grab free tickets now.

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 1 to 2p
Hall of Records tour
Designed by John Rochester Thomas and completed by Tammany Hall architects Horgan and Slattery, this dramatic space is often seen in movies and on popular television shows such as Law & Order.
Matt Minor, a digital specialist at the Municipal Archives, will explore the history and design of the Hall of Records as well as the Manhattan Surrogate’s Court. It is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful and celebrated public buildings in the city.
More info and RSVP here

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1 to 2p
Explore New York City during the 1940s through the Municipal Archives collections.
Kelli O’Toole, digitization specialist for the Department of Records, will lead a visual journey of New York City as seen through the Municipal Archives’ collection of “tax photos” taken between 1939 and 1941 by the Works Progress Administration and Department of Taxation.
More info and RSVP here




  1. About 3.5 years ago I was able to enter to get to the archives facility that gave public access (via microfiche) to the tax photos on the first floor, so hopefully the restrictions now are Covid related and will be released some day. It is an amazing, awe inspiring space.

  2. When I lived in 10007, this was the voting location. Don’t know if that’s still the case.

  3. Why the prohibition against photos once you’re inside? Isn’t a public space?

  4. I have been there for events- like films, show openings, etc. (pre Covid), and no one said anything when I took photos. They have a mailing list for events- Have to go through airport style security to get in.