At the time of my writing this, the final bricks of the former BRT/BMT power plant in Brooklyn are coming down.
This historic building met an untimely and seemingly little noticed death this year. Built in sections between 1905 and 1935, this power plant, located just north of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, once powered the transit and trolley lines of the BRT. The BRT later became the BMT, and then part of the MTA. In 1950 it was sold by the MTA to Con Ed, who used it as a regular power plant until the 1990s. Eventually they shut the plant down and it sat dormant for years while ConEd tried to figure out what to do with it. Attempts to sell the property failed as it was highly contaminated with Asbestos.
Demolition work began early this year, largely in secret. When ConEd spokesmen were asked early on about the status of the plant, they denied it was being taken down.
Despite the significant history of the building (outlined in this great blog post all about the power plant), a request to have the building considered for landmarking & preservation was flatly denied. “The
decision not to recommend further consideration is based on our current priorities. This decision could be reconsidered at a later date should additional information become available”. (What a joke eh?)
Having kept an eye on this place for years, we knew something sooner or later would happen that would allow us access to this location. While it’s always unfortunate that the building comes down, we’re just glad to have been able to get in.
Very early in the year we noted that security was slacking off. Previously, this location was secured from all available angles of approach. When this started to change, and work equipment arrived on the scene, it was just plain expected that action would happen here. Our first raid of this location was done in the middle of the night early in the spring.
There’s always a thrill about being the first in at a place like this. Often times you’re not sure it’s even completely abandoned, or if there are people still working or lurking inside. Thus, to be the first in again is always an honor. Those in the know probably recognized the mission was accomplished (with certified proof, not GW Bush style) when we posted this entry to the site in May.
We were not done though, as this place was far too big and beautiful not to document further. In a mildly daring broad daylight, middle of the summer afternoon raid, we went back for all the photos you see on this page (and many more). It seemed like just yesterday. Demo work progressed quickly, and today this location is no more.
Thus this is yet another sad tribute to NYC’s industrial past. This lot will likely become like so much other waterfront property around town – more large apartment buildings with ultra-luxury high end prices in the millions. It’s just one more push, taking NYC further from it’s past and closer to its seeming future as a place where nothing is held sacred and you’re not wanted unless you’ve got a truckload of cash.