This summer, the abandoned remains of Moore McCormack’s Brooklyn facility are being wiped off the face of the planet.
The former Moore McCormack property was located at the foot of 23rd street in Sunset Park. Moore McCormack was a large shipping company, This facility was known as a ‘break bulk‘ facility where freight was manually unloaded from ships and split into smaller shipments to individual customers.
After World War 2, Moore McCormack became a very busy place – so much so that in 1960, they built a huge new pier warehouse. This pier could accommodate the unloading of up to 6 ships at a time.
Moore McCormack’s massive pier in 1960. The buildings that remained until 2016 are on the lower left.
This success also drew crime. The piers of Brooklyn were manned by mafia controlled union labor, largely Italian immigrants. At the head of these Unions was ‘Tough Tony’ Anastasio, brother to the murderous crime boss Albert Anastasia. These union members were brawlers, with the occasional riot resulting from disputes on who would unload cargo. The Anastasios even took credit for the sinking of the SS Normandie.
The nefarious looting of cargo was a simple reality of doing business for decades. Security guards were often abused during these robberies. These crimes lasted right up to the 1980s, when half a million dollars worth of Tin was looted from the Moore McCormack terminal.
While these robberies and union relations surely crammed Moore McCormack’s bottom like, the company was ultimately killed by capitalism. Trans-ocean freight movements were rapidly becoming containerized. These containers were carried on huge boats. A small terminal like Moore McCormack’s simply didn’t have space to moor one of these huge vessels, let alone the property to unload hundreds of truck-sized containers at once. These containers were also being transported by rail, stacked two containers high. Moore McCormacks had no rail connection (though a rail terminal did exist next door until the 1960s), and the freight tracks of Brooklyn and Queens were blocked from this container traffic by overpasses that are not tall enough. By the early 1980s, Moore McCormack was dead.
With it, their large pier warehouse disappeared. I haven’t found a record of exactly what happened to it, but one can assume it was heavily vandalized and demolished by the early 2000s (the same fate of pier warehouses throughout the harbor).
2016 view of the property – compare it to the photo above. Magic disappearing pier!
For a short while, one of the buildings here was rented out by Sheba exporters – a shipper of secondhand clothing. There’s more information about them within this link. When we published the article about Sheba in 2011, we left out Moore McCormack’s history so as not to give away the location (if we had, it would have been overrun with all manner of crooks).
Rear buildings, blurry rainy day.
It sat abandoned for the past 20 years. During that time, we had free range of the place. I was always amazed at how this set of buildings, located right along a busy road and clearly visible from the BQE, never seemed to be noticed by ‘urban explorers’ or graffiti artists.
That’s not to say this building didn’t contain some great graffiti jewels, right up until the end. A set of pieces by internationally famous Utah & Ether were located at the rear of the top floor. There was also some really old LTV Goon shit.
This spring (2016), demolition work on these buildings began. Within the next month there will be no trace that these buildings ever stood here.
The only remaining trace of this facility will be a set of signs along the BQE, and it’s only a matter of time before the powers that be remove those as well.
RIP Moore McCormacks.