Terminal Cold StorageFebruary 6th, 2014 by Bad Guy Joe
Terminal Cold Storage is one of my new favorite buildings in NYC. Located on the far west side of Manhattan, this former warehouse and nightclub space represents one of NYC's most unique buildings.
Terminal Cold Storage was built for owner William W. Rossiter in 1890. It consumes the entire block between 11th and 12th avenues, between 27th and 28th streets.
Daytonian in Manhattan has an extensive history of this building, so I'll borrow this snippet to paint the broad strokes: Enormous gaping arches that dominated both the 11th and 12th Avenue facades were not added for design appeal. They allowed the New York Central trains to enter the warehouse on the 11th Avenue side and the Erie and Lehigh Railroads to access the 12th Avenue entrance. Filled with freight, the cars of the Erie and Lehigh would then be loaded onto transfer bridges and floated to the New Jersey side.
The warehouse advertised space for items from as small as "mirrors" and "pictures" to carriages. Moving and packing services were offered, "freezing rooms" that prevented damage from moths or other insects to furs, woolens and carpets, and lighterage--the transfer of cargo from ship to shore.
The building is actually an interconnected set of over 20 buildings, with thick brick walls and fireproof doors separating them. This fireproof design was a very new concept when the building was constructed, and it saved it from extensive damage over the decades - enduring several fires that were not able to spread far.
In the 1980s a portion of the building was used as 'the tunnel' nightclub. The tunnel was a notorious drug den. Several music videos were shot here though, one by Johnny Kemp and another by Queen Pen are two good examples of videos shot at the Tunnel - and a hilarious reminder of cheesy 1980s dance steps to boot.
The Tunnel closed its doors late in 2001 due to non-payment of rent and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's quality-of-life campaign.The Tunnel's owner, Peter Gatien, had been accused of drug trafficking, though he was acquitted in court. However, He and his wife plead guilty to tax evasion and were deported to Canada in 2003. it is reported that actor Vin Diesel was once a bouncer for the club.
Today the building is home to many pop-up stores and special events, storage companies and tech tenants such as Quirky and IOMedia. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded the basements of this building. While the building survived structurally, the flooding severely damaged tens of millions of dollars in vintage wine stored by the Winecare Storage company's basement storage space.
There's not a whole lot to 'break into' in here, though there are some creepy old staircases and vintage, rarely used freight elevators. The rooftop view is definitely an interesting angle looking northward over the high line, Javitis Center and the west side LIRR yard - which will soon be decked over for the Hudson Yards development. Even if you don't get on the roof, the huge 'tunnel' space in the center of the building is generally open to the public and an architectural gem. It's hard to walk through it and not imagine how trains once ran right through the center of this building.