In the past year or so, a significant amount of construction activity has been observed along the Greenway from Gansevoort Street up to 17th Street. As users regularly negotiate Greenway detours, passing all manner of construction equipment, they may ask themselves, “What exactly is going on here?” Let us investigate!
It may interest the reader to first review some history of the area. It is well known that the island of Manhattan has been expanded past its natural boundaries over the years by using landfill. This was true of the area North of Gansevoort Street, which once extended West to Thirteenth Avenue. However, in an effort to create extended piers to accommodate larger ships, the city took the unusual measure of removing landfill so that the piers could be built without expanding the overall boundary of the city.
In the present day, the area may be divided into three distinct sections: Gansevoort Peninsula, Pier 54/55, and Pier 57 (a.k.a. Super Pier). This post will cover construction at Gansevoort Peninsula and Pier 54/55. Super Pier will be covered in a future post.
Gansevoort Peninsula has long been occupied by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), a.k.a. “New York’s Strongest”. DSNY’s facilities on the peninsula included:
- A salt shed to store salt used for salting roads during snow storms (recently demolished).
- A “garbage destructor” facility, or incinerator, used to burn garbage. Later used as a garage to store and service DSNY equipment. Shown to the right in the picture above.
- A marine transfer station, which was used to dump garbage onto barges (partially demolished). Remnants are shown to the left in the picture above.
Gansevoort Peninsula is also home to FDNY’s Marine Company 1, who operate “The Busiest Fireboat in the World”. Marine 1 is housed in the modern metal and glass structure shown in the center of the photograph above.
In an effort to reclaim the waterfront for public use, the City has worked with DSNY to build new facilities further inland that would free spaces such as these up for parks. Plans were initiated in 2008 for DSNY to vacate the Gansevoort Peninsula so that it could be turned over to the Hudson River Park Trust. This has been held up as the new DSNY facilities have been constructed. Fortunately with the opening of DSNY’s new mega-garage and salt shed just a little farther South on Spring Street, demolition of the Gansevoort facility has commenced.
DSNY’s New Spring Street Facility
There do not yet appear to be any specific plans disclosed for the park, perhaps because they will need to be coordinated with two major challenges:
- FDNY Marine 1 will remain just where it is, so the park will need to allow 24/7 access to this facility.
- DSNY will not completely vacate the peninsula, and in fact plans to build a new marine transfer station on the same pilings that supported the existing partially demolished station. This new transfer station will exclusively handle recyclable materials. DSNY estimates that as many as 30 trucks per hour will need to access the station, requiring an access plan that minimizes impact to the park.
Meanwhile demolition continues:
And from the looks of it, the Destructor / Garage is not long for this earth.
The Garbage Destructor
The Garbage Destructor, Newly Built (Source: NYC Dept. of Records)
Just to the North of Gansevoort Peninsula is Pier 54, once home of the White Star and Cunard steamship lines.
Pier 54 circa 1930 (Source: NYC Dept. of Records)
Though the terminal structure has been gone for some time, until recently the the pier itself was still in place. It was only in the past year or so that it has been dismantled. The only remnant is the original entrance gate, which was re-supported as part of the pier removal.
The Gate, in its Original Context (Source: NYC Dept. of Records)
Looking towards the water, however, the tops of new concrete pilings may be seen, providing a hint to future potential. Behold the proposed Pier 55!
Proposed Pier 55 (Source: Pier 55 Inc.)
This island oasis is estimated to cost in excess of 200 Million Dollars, and despite numerous legal battles is slated to open in 2019. We look forward to observing its progress!
Stay tuned for our next Construction Watch installment, where we will investigate the notorious Super Pier!
Pier 57 a.k.a. Super Pier