City In FluxAuthor: Control , Date Posted: 2010-10-11 00:00:00
Flux Factory is a well known NYC arts organization. From 2002 to 2009, they were located in a space on 43rd street in queens, right next to the sunnyside amtrak yard - where they held numerous events over the years bringing art to a corner of NYC rarely known for such events (by comparison to Manhattan or the white parts of Brooklyn).
This seemingly out of the way location eventually became a target of eminent domain. The MTA, in its quest to bring LIRR service to Grand Central Station (currently they only serve Penn Station), decided they needed the property for... some strange unknown reason. The Flux building was located north of the LIRR mainline, away from any new trackwork that needs to be done. While the west side of the building is up against the loop tracks that bring Amtrak and NJ Transit trains out of penn station and into Sunnyside yard, it's not entirely clear why they need more space for tracks on this loop.
The Flux Factory and it's neighbors, however, were not historically significant at all. They were squat warehouse buildings, constructed from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s. The youngest of the buildings was 14 years old. That's a seriously short life span for such a building - especially one that was not located in a prime area where anyone would want to build a condo.
Flux held their last event in their building in April of 2009
The night of our trip is unpleasant. It's hot and sticky, which is great when you're with a woman but no god damned good when you're in the urban jungle. We wait for the nearly constant parade of cars to stop flowing from the driveway that will be our access point, hop the fence and proceed with caution. The first buildings have already been demoed, with huge piles of rubble scattered about. We get up to the front door of what was the Flux building and go up the stairs.
The devastation is quickly apparent. Nothing was left behind. The walls have been smashed and there's a bobcat parked on the second floor. After some time poking around we try to start the bobcat up only to find there's something very wrong with it. One light goes on, and that's it. No amount of unlocking breaks, turning the key, etc - makes it go. Too bad, it would have been a sweat ride. The terrace on the rear of the building has an epic view of sunnyside yard and the NYC skyline. It's sad that this spot is going to be lost forever.
Around back we climb off the rear terrace and head south. The adjoining buildings have bars on the windows and lights on inside. Down on the street, they are not yet boarded up, so it could still be active. We look in the windows though and find that the interior is virtually empty. We decide to take a look in the unlocked roof door.
Inside, the AC is blasting. It's 25 degrees cooler and 500% more palatable. We comb through the second floor looking for signs of life, but only find old blueprints and a 'fun room' with pillow, empty 40s and condoms on the floor.
Things get a little more strange downstairs - this windowless garage area is again fully lit and air conditioned - only now though we come across work vans. They have valid registration, plates, and are full of construction tools. Irked by the fact that we've stumbled into this clearly in-use area, we back out the same way we came in. On the way out we find a gate to the street is completely unlocked and open. Anyone could have walked in here and looted whatever they wanted - and a quick scan of the job site shows a huge amount of equipment ripe for the picking. This would be really irresistible to a more criminal minded crew. We close the gate behind us, and disappear into the night.
1 week later, all of these buildings were gone. I'm glad I got to see them before their untimely death.