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Manhattan Night Court

1 post
Manhattan Night Court

Hey everyone,

I will be going to New York soon and I am very interested in visiting the night court, which has been advertised as a "tourist attraction" of sorts. Does anyone have any tips or information on:

1. How to get there? I will be staying in "Pod 51" on 230 E 51st St.

2. How busy it tends to get? Are there any particular things you need to take, or avoid taking?

And just any experiences for people who have been there before? I would be interested to hear!



Level Contributor
976 posts
25 reviews
17 helpful votes
1. Re: Manhattan Night Court

We went on our recent trip.

Expect airport style security, so you will need to empty your pockets and have your belongings and body scanned, although the atmosphere is more relaxed than airport security.

Our tip would be to go Thurs, Fri or Saturday. We tried to go earlier in the week and the security guards said it tends to be quite slow and that there is more to see closer to the weekend. There is only one court open for the first half of the week, closer to the weekend the open a second and split them so that one hears misdemeanours and one hears felonies.

It was interesting, but I got frustrated by the inefficiency of the process (what I wouldn't have given to be in charge there and get things moving quicker!).

Don't expect great acoustics, you won't hear half of what is being said as the people will all have their backs to you.

It isn't mega busy, the only other spectators are likely to be journalists, family members of people having hearings and the odd other tourist. When we visited the majority of other people sitting in the court were police officers escorting people who were waiting to be heard (at one point there were 12 police officers minding criminals in the public gallery. You will also need to be mindful of the fast that people that have just been arrested will be sat in the gallery with you waiting for their case to be called....you'll need to decide whether you're comfortable with them being maybe in the seat in front or behind you. I will say there wasn't any trouble and all of the people who had been arrested were waiting really patiently and without complaint in both courts when we went.

The only other thing is that because there can be decent gaps between cases and the constant mumbling, it's very easy to nod off when you're jet lagged.....as my OH found out, which meant we didn't stay as long as I would have liked. Maybe a red bull or a light day beforehand is a good idea.

Google maps will give you the subway and walking directions you need, but it isn't particularly hard to find as there's not much open in the area at that time of night. There is a street behind that is lit up with bail bond offices and a bar so once you see that you'll know you're about there.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
105,673 posts
13 reviews
26 helpful votes
2. Re: Manhattan Night Court

The address is 100 Centre St. down in the financial district.

Bergen County, New...
Level Contributor
4,931 posts
233 reviews
258 helpful votes
3. Re: Manhattan Night Court

I'll try to keep any rant-words out of this, but there is an unfortunate scrap of voyeurism or poverty-tourism in this. It's very important that court proceedings be public, which overrides the privacy of people in unfortunate circumstances. But if you knew how many people have to spend, literally, weeks on Rikers Island because they can't come up with $350 bail, you would might regard the proceedings as entertainment.

Level Contributor
9,962 posts
28 reviews
16 helpful votes
4. Re: Manhattan Night Court

Also, the last thing most Americans want to do is sit in a courtroom. People go to great lengths to avoid jury duty. If you want courtroom entertainment, go to a jury selection proceeding😉

And just so you know, someone isn't a criminal until they're proved guilty.

Flushing, New York
Level Contributor
7,811 posts
87 reviews
48 helpful votes
5. Re: Manhattan Night Court

If you google "NYC night court", you will find a number of articles on it. Apparently, it had a star rating on TripAdvisor, but that review seems to have vanished. You may end up seated next to an arrested person in the gallery according to one review.

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
27,083 posts
6. Re: Manhattan Night Court

Yes, please don't call people who have been arrested "criminals." They are people who have been accused of something, and they are entitled to their day in court before being judged. And I hope that if you go to view the proceedings, that you do so with a mind towards witnessing the criminal justice system in action, and not towards gawking at people who are human beings with families who are caught up in tragedies as if they were characters in a television show.

New York City
Level Contributor
6,516 posts
77 reviews
53 helpful votes
7. Re: Manhattan Night Court

Judge Harry Stone is no longer presiding at the Night Court

8. Re: Manhattan Night Court

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New York City, New...
Level Contributor
10,175 posts
24 reviews
44 helpful votes
9. Re: Manhattan Night Court

If you're seriously into low class voyeurism, you could also go hang out in the emergency room of a public hospital on a Friday or Saturday night, though you may already know that from your travel guide. Depending on what's going on, you may be able to see people who are BOTH sick/injured AND in the process of being arrested.

New York
Level Contributor
3,946 posts
10. Re: Manhattan Night Court

the night court, which has been advertised as a "tourist attraction" of sorts


Where, exactly, are you seeing such advertisements?