Views from The Blanchard Building

Published on: February 2nd, 2016 | Last updated: August 25, 2016 Written by:

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One of LIC’s oldest standing factory buildings still has a great view of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

History
While doing some research on this building I found via Mitch Waxman’s blog that it was once the site of a massive fire. The NY Times story about the incident is surprisingly detailed. Here’s just a few bits from the story:

1) The fire started at a varnish company next door, and quickly spread across a narrow rail siding containing loaded lumber cars to the Blanchard building. J.F. Blanchard, ironically, was a manufacture of fireproof doors and shutters (the installation of which reduced insurance costs for buildings using them).

2) The fire was so big a crowd gathered on the Manhattan shoreline to view the spectacle.

3) Fire units from Manhattan and Brooklyn were called in – the ones from Manhattan had to ride across the river on a ferry (the Queensboro bridge didn’t exist yet).

4) “Many fear approaching nearer, for two towering tanks, which looked as though they might contain oil, seemed alarmingly close to the flames. They were, however, water tanks for supplying the locomotives. “ These were steam locomotives, being serviced at Wheelspur Yard.

5) “The rising masses of flames took on varied and rich colors as the fire spread to the different materials”.

6) The LIRR sent a locomotive to remove the lumber cars early in the fire, but hoses were already laid across the tracks, thus the freight was destroyed and the fire was able to spread to the Blanchard building.

7) Three fireboats came up newtown creek, but were a little too far from the building to pump water onto it. Ironically, a post-hurricane sandy fire in Wheelspur also resulted in a fireboat coming to the scene, though it too was not used.

A single fireman was injured on the way to the scene, and was transported to St. John’s hospital, which was located at the where the current Citibank/One Court Square building stands.

The NY Times article is definitely worth the read. So many of these things would never happen today.

Current
Today the building is occupied by numerous small businesses. One of them will be familiar to anyone who ever dyed their hair growing up: Manic Panic(!).

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Looking towards Lower Manhattan

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North, into Queens. Citibank building still dominating the LIC skyline.

And finally…
Here’s an neat architectural element: The water tank that was on the roof was held in place by an iron bridge that connected to the stronger exterior brickwork of the building.
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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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