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Bravo, Francis. The greatness of New York City came from its harbor and harbor industries. Thank you for your tribute to our great industrial buildings. Today the city's powerful real estate interests want to build only suburbanizing structures, housing and office buildings. They play on our guilt by saying that we are "taking the waterfront back." We are taking the waterfront back, true, the way strip-mining takes back the land.

Without Wall Street, New York would look like all the other post-industrial northern cities, like Buffalo or Syracuse. Wall Street's salaries produce 20 per cent of personal income here. That cannot go on indefinitely. Wall Street also supports the housing industry. Both are cyclical. Already, securities jobs are migrating to other parts of the country. Even the New York Stock Exchange is struggling to survive.

The Municipal Art Society's "eulogy" performs a service. I hope to attend the event on Tuesday evening. Hand-wringing, however, only feels like action. When the MAS could be fighting, it has chosen to mourn.

Mary Campbell Gallagher



I am writing now to commend last night's program at the Municipal Art Society on the great buildings of the East River industrial waterfront and to ask what we can do to save those that remain. If I was unjust to the MAS in my previous post, I am very sorry. Now is a time for positive action.

How many New Yorkers know that--as you have told us--with the closing of Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Refinery in 2004, the year 2005 was "the first year in 275 years that there was not a working sugar refinery within the present boundaries of the five boroughs"? How many New Yorkers even know that New York's mid-century industrial workers were well-paid? The elderly retired longshoreman who spoke last night, who had worked at the Greenpoint Terminal Market, kept saying, "everyone earned a good living." New York City's blue collar jobs really were good jobs. The loss of industry really is a loss.

Real estate developers and Mayor Bloomberg want to forget the past and tear down the buildings that remain, regardless of architectural merit or historic significance. They do not want to reuse the buildings, they want to bulldoze them for new condos and office buildings, the "highest and best use."

At the end of the evening Frank Sanchis of the MAS acknowledged that the indifference of the general public is an obstacle to saving these buildings and asked the audience what we can do. If the Highline was saved, he said, then no cause is hopeless. One audience member noted that the public will not fight to re-use these buildings as million-dollar condo lofts.

My own view is that land use in New York City is political, but dressed up with legal and aesthetic trappings. Lacking a powerful elected official on our side, we need an industrial Jackie Kennedy or an industrial Isaac Stern, or an industrial Advisory Committee of boldface names.

More immediately, Francis, can the MAS give us a list with a description of each remaining building, its legal status, the time frame for decisions or hearings or demolitions, and the names and addresses of the persons or organizations to whom we should address our postcards and letters? I am sending this request to Frank Sanchis of the MAS, as well.

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino

Thank you for preserving these architectural treasures on the web for the enjoyment of all citizens. Haven't these mammoth elegant works of industrial art fascinated us since our early years? I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island in the long shadow of the South Street Generating Station. During the wee hours on Providence's tony East Side, one could hear the Middle-C whine from the massive induced draft intake fans at South Street and sister plant, Manchester Street Generating Station.

During the early 90s, Manchester Street was rebuilt with new technology yet fortunately the original building was preserved.

South Street was closed in 1991. Fortunately, as distinct from Manhattan's mighty Waterside complex, a Baltimore developer plans to restore the sprawling brick and copper palace that is South Street into a luxury hotel and technology museum.

Better yet, the developer will restore the original six smokestacks and the iron filligree which binds them, and will as well light them at night.

These Basilicae of Power are beloved amongst urban archaelogists, as are abandoned radar stations, vintage Cold War sites, harborside Coal Gantries, and other early 20th century marvels.

Is on surprised that Wall Street swells are in a frenzy to demolish these irreplaceable cultural jewels? Nope. Don't they know all too well the cost of everything -
and the value of nothing?

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
19 June, 2008

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino

PS -

One can find a treasure trove of photos and articles about New England industrial utilitarian architecture at www.artinruins.com, including information on South Street's restoration.

The South Street restoration URL is www.thedynamohouse.com. Be sure to check out the photos.

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
19 June, 2008

Paul Vincent Zecchino

The 1958 TV rendition of Mickey Spillane's "Mike Hammer" presently airs on 'THIS' TV, Saturday evenings from 7 to 8 PM.
The series is rich in vintage Manhatan vistas. Many scenes were shot outdoors along the East River with ConEd's mighty Watersides I and II Power Houses, the Queensboro and Manhattan Bridges in full view, along with Hudson Avenue Power House in the distance.

Real, live, 'smoke', rather than its present-day emission-controlled pasty-faced geek substitute wafts gently from Watersides' three stacks in the background as Hammer meets with informants and chases bad guys around the East River Drive, his shoulder rig hanging stylishly outside his ever-present sportcoat.

The compelling climaxes inevitably feature Hammer wailing the dog doot outa the bad guy by means of his Jiu Jitsu treatment, something he learned 'back in the War', no doubt. Fantastic!

Plentiful NYC vistas ca. 1958 bejewel this interesting noir series which presciently illustrated many modern-era white collar criminal scams.

Well worth viewing for reasons both architectural and forensic.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
03 May, 2010

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