History Burned: The sad death of the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses.


On the morning of May 2nd, 2006. The sun rose to a greet a thick cloud of smoke above Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The massive Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse complex was burning. It was the largest fire in NYC since 9/11. Some 350+ firemen answered the call to this 10 alarm fire. It took 2 days and millions of gallons of water to finally put down the flames. By the end of the first day though it was apparent that the heart and soul of GTW, a long string of up to 14 interconnected historic warehouse buildings, was lost.

GTW was an explorers paradise. It was an ever evolving environment filled to the brim with dangers and challenges. As the years passed the danger that the buildings would be bulldozed and redeveloped was ever present. The owner, Joshua Guttman, had received permission to demolish much of the property from the Department of Buildings. Additionally, the property was to be rezoned, from industrial to residential/commercial use. The writing was on the wall. We all knew it would be gone some day, though no one assumed it would go down in such a dramatic fashion.

The first time I came across GTW, it was in the mid to late 1990s. I remember walking over to west street, seeing the rusting skywalks running over the street from a distance, and being drawn to the place like a bear to honey. It was a strange place. I walked from North to South. To the north of Building 1 (as noted on my map - i'm not sure how the property owners identified these buildings - I've simply numbered them in the order I explored them) was a large empty lot, full of trash and polish squatters. building 1 itself also seemed to be teamed with these squatters (as well as a location in LIC, the old Review oil refinery - photos of that are here. ).

South of there, the intersection of Noble and West was the crossroads of the facility. GTW 2 lay to the east, and areas 3 and 4 were on the west side of the street. These were protected by tall fencing and an ever-present security guard.

Further south there was a lot next to GTW2 that also occasionally had a guard on duty, and beyond Oak street the CF freightways terminal on the west side of West street featured a very busy warehouse with 24/7 security and an awful lot of truck traffic. Everything was well fenced in and secured. Time is a bitch though, and eventually Guttman bought the property. We can only assume he severely cut back on security as there was no longer a guard posted at the Noble street gate, and the occasional hole in the fencing could be found at either the Noble or Oak street gates. This of course opened the doors for us to visit on a much more regular basis than we had in the past.

What we found was a delightfully decayed location, full of mystery and madness. Oak street behind the gate proved to be a rubble strewn post apocalyptic playground. The pavement, covered in debris, and the buildings looking as if bombs had hit them. Inside there were rotting floors, old offices, warehouse space, rusted cars, amazing graffiti, and rooms filled waste deep with old clothing. We also found Squatters, a man named Ra being the most established of them. He had built a camp for himself high atop the buildings in a room filled with clothing, old books, tables, and minimal candlelight.

GTW was thus the home to a punk rock concert one year, thrown by Ra and Al, frontman of the notorious NYHC band 'Eyes of Hate'. In 2004 there was an effort to repeat that concert and document it all on film and video. I was to do the photography work. The plans were laid and set in motion, but at the last minute the NYPD fowled the plan. 3 of us made a daring escape that night, which is too long of a story in and of itself to repeat here. Sadly, Al passed away not terribily long after. As one person said, you weren't a punk in NYC if you didn't know Al. No other concerts took place there after that...

GTW was a lot of things to a lot of people. It was indeed the forgotten city. It was a place where the wicked feral children played and created amongst the debris of a land that time seemed to have forgot. There isn't an NYC explorer worth their salt who was actively exploring back then that doesn't have fond memories of how GTW was, and this page is but a small tribute to some of our adventures there.

-Control. May, 2006 - with minor edits & links added in October 2015.

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses – a decade after the fire

Greenpoint Terminal is the gift that keeps on giving, even a decade later.

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses – Post-fire sunset.

After the fire, new views of the city open up

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses: May 2 2006

On the night of May 2nd, close to 24 hours after the fire had started, the flames were still burning and the smoke was still thick.

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses: After the Fire

These photos were taken late in the day on May 2nd 2006, the day that the heart and Soul of GTW burned.

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses: Ra’s Lair

Ra is the international man of mystery that made GTW his home.

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses: Santa Attacks.

The Sick Santa Explorathon (SSE) was a rather ridiculous Santacon-afterparty held in 2003.

Greenpoint Terminal Market: The Night Raid

The guard that was usually on duty had finally disappeared… so you know what happened next. I’ll just let the photos say it all.

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse Collapse Zone

I remember 2004. It was springtime, and A & P were in town once again. These guys are a little more on the daring side, and they hadn’t seen the insanity that was the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouses just yet, so off we went.

GTW aerial Photos, Adventure Maps, and Salvaged Loot

It’s hard to describe the adventures that were had at Greenpoint Terminal without a view of the whole complex. So let’s take a look:

Greenpoint Terminal Graffiti Room

Greenpoint terminal was a big enough set of buildings that you could go over and over and over and still find new things. On this night we accessed a room that looked as though a squatter was living in it. Upon closer inspection though it appears the room was used as a local hang out […]

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse – Easy like a sunday morning.

After we found out that CF Freight had filed for bankruptcy and shut down their warehouse just south of GTW, we took advantage of the newly desolated surroundings to gain access for this, the first ever recorded daylight raid on the terminal.