201 (block): Designed by Albert Buchman and
Eli Jacques Kahn, this was built in 1929 as the
United States Appraisers' Stores Building,
a federal building that warehoused goods
seized by the Customs Bureau. During World
War II, the building was reportedly used for
secret atomic experiments. The Atomic Energy
Commission moved offices to the building in 1959.
The building houses an INS detention center, used to
hold what would be called "political prisoners" if
they were in another country. After September 11,
it is believed to have held numerous "special guests"--though
the point of a secret jail like this one is that one
doesn't know who or how many. As commentator
John Bloom wrote, "I've seen buildings like this in
other countries--in Moscow, in Istanbul, in Mexico City--but
I had never before seen an unmarked urban detention center
in the U.S."
Also in the building is the
Environmental Measurements Laboratory, which is
the government's main radiation-testing lab. It helped
monitor the environmental consequences of September 11.
It's now part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Other offices in the building include Manhattan's
main passport office, a branch of the National Archives
and the local office of Rep. Jerry Nadler.