Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Torn on the 12th of July

There's something in all of us, I think, that enjoys watching a building being demolished.

A landmark building is being demolished not far from where I live.    People visiting me always remark about the demolition in progress.  It's going to be in progress, perhaps, for perhaps three months more (including cleanup of all the debris and the land replanted in grass.)

It seems I've blogged so many times about Air Force Plant 59, built during World War II, whose last tenant, BAE Systems, left in advance of raising flood waters on September 8, 2011.  The building had stood, vacant, ever since.
The  BAE building (some locals still call it the "GE Building", a tenant for many years), on September 10 2011, as the flood waters were already receding, is shown in this video.

As my neighborhood walked the trail of recovery, this building stood patiently, as a disaster recovery tried to salvage it.  After almost two months of effort, it was decided (in November of 2011) that it was not salvageable.

It took so long for this distinguished building, once the largest wood framed building in the United States (some 600,000 square feet), to meet its fate.

Finally, demolition began 1625 days after the flood. 

On May 7, Bradford Pears bloomed in front of the building for perhaps the last time (as of today, they are still there). 
May 12.
On June 6, everything looked so green from this angle. But, in back, the building was being torn up from the direction not facing the public.
The skies were so beautiful on June 21, as summer began (the smokestack to the left is not part of the building).
Goodbye to what was once executive parking, I believe

Then, on June 23, we saw part of the building collapsing into itself in controlled demolition.  I haven't witnessed this demolition personally, since I work during the hours when this demolition takes place.  But, perhaps it surprises me that so many people love to watch a building being demolished.  Almost everyone you see walking along Main Street, where this building is, stops to stare.

There are some videos on You Tube.  One (not this one) even has such dramatic music it's - well, it's an experience.
Taken on July 4 - no demolition due to the holiday
As of this morning, piles of rubble replace more and more of the building.
Fields of Debris
Any historic building meeting its end saddens me.  So much was built in this factory.  Airplane engines during World War II, hybrid buses and other projects more recently.

Over 1,300 people worked here (they've moved a few miles down the road, but BAE only committed to five years - and, later this year, that time will expire.)

And,  no one knows for sure what will replace the old Air Force Plant 59.  The future of this plot of land may well be the future of any neighborhood that floods.  There is technology out there - green roofs, parking lot materials that allow water to penetrate and not collect.  This land can be used.  We can co exist with flooding.

One plan is for a solar power plant.  Another plan is for multi use, and that is what I am hoping for.  Imagine if they even included plans for senior living.  Buildings can be built to co exist with flooding. People are already trying to figure out how to co exist with hurricanes, and that is not a problem where I live.

We MUST learn to live with floods.  With climate change, we have no choice.  But it's almost like we've lost our will to try anything new.

As with everything else in New York State, it seems, nothing moves fast.  The town still hasn't made a decision.

Five years of no decision.

In the meantime, the demolition continues.  It should be all completed by-fall.

Have you ever watched a building be destroyed?

This is Day Three of Write Tribe's Festival of Word #5.  Why don't you visit some of the bloggers participating in this from all over the world?


  1. I go to Europe to see buildings and churches from hundreds and hundreds of years ago, but in America we tear everything down and stat over. They did the same thing in my community with old farmhouses that were used as safe-havens during the Civil War. Progress?

    1. No, not progress. It breaks my heart that they couldn't save AF59. But, on the other hand, my area is littered with abandoned and rotting shoe factories. They did try to save one earlier this year with intent of turning into housing, but found it was salvageable.

  2. Sometimes learning to live with floods means NOT rebuilding anything. It's meant to remain a flood zone!

    1. Many of the houses that were destroyed in my neighborhood in the 2011 flood will never be rebuilt (it will not be allowed.) But, they feel this property can be built on, with proper precautions. (I'm sure getting it back on the tax rolls has a little something to do with it, too.) This is going to be a growing problem with global wa...I mean, climate change.

  3. Replies
    1. It was, when it was whole. I hope they can make it a good place to be once again.

  4. Always kind of hard to see a long-familiar structure go, isn't it? I hope something good is done with the space.

    Was that Tropical Storm Lee? I was initially thinking Irene because that was the 2011 one that I clearly remember doing a lot of damage to the towns along the Hudson, but that was in August.

    1. It was Lee. Irene dumped lots of rain on us but didn't cause the damage it did in the Hudson Valley. But, the rains from Irene, combined with an already record wet summer, left rivers in this area unable to cope with Lee. The side of Westover opposite BAE was particularly hard hit.

  5. It's a shame to see a building with such history come down, but it seems to be the time to do it. If it's not salvageable, then they might as well make room for something else. A multi-purpose building, like you say, does sound like a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Jeanne. I hope something good can come out that hard time.

  6. Sad to see it go, but perhaps something else that works better with the land will go there. Love the title of this post.

  7. Recently I read about a dam being demolished. In just 5 years, the area had been reclaimed by nature. It was just beautiful. Destruction doesn't necessarily mean an ending, but perhaps a beginning?

  8. I guess we all have our weather troubles in our community. No forest fire here yet. But more good management of our woods would be good.
    Like any community there such a divide between the environmentalist and the non.
    Coffee is on

  9. I think our mind is conditioned to feel sad at anything coming to destruction and to be in awe with something seen for the first time.

  10. It is hard to see something historic meet an end like this....!


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