Thursday, May 04, 2006

Greenpoint Terminal Market Inferno: The Blaze Seen 'Round the World

Not that anyone needs Gowanus Lounge to tell them, but the horrendous Greenpoint Terminal Market fire was finally declared under control yesterday evening. GL is gratified with the extent to which every major media outlet in the city (and all the small ones too) are pursuing the arson-on-the-waterfront angle. Scandal and outrage are only investigated or uncovered in direct proportion to media attention.

Slime grows best in dark, damp places.

The Village Voice story about a fire in a Dumbo building in 2004 also owned by Greenpoint Terminal Market landlord Josh Guttman was widely cited and the depth of the movement to landmark the buildings became clear as representatives from neighborhood groups and the Municipal Arts Society were repeatedly interviewed. Today's coverage is focusing on an aborted real estate deal for the property and some sort of juicy revenge motive or developer blood feud.

One of GL's theories: That it was arson, but the firebugs had no idea the poor Greenpoint Terminal Market would go up in a near-firestorm and burn for days. Small fires in, say, Dumbo are easy to ignore and attract the attention of only, say, the Village Voice. A monstrous conflagration that reminds us all of 9-11, becomes one of the most photographed New York City fires of all time and a global story can prove problematic to the, um, fire starter and invisible hand.

The Greenpoint fire has generated hundreds of stories (389, to be exact, turned up early this morning in a news search for "Greenpoint Terminal Market") around the world, including Xinhua in China, The Standard in Hong Kong (which ran an AP story and headlined it, "Arson Link to Brooklyn Blaze") and The Australian.

If there is a silver lining to the terrible fate suffered by the Greenpoint Terminal Market--assuming it wasn't an act of God or the homeless building a warming springtime bonfire next to mountainous bales of old clothing soaked with what the FDNY euphemistically calls "accelerant"--it is that it bares the ugly side of the Great Brooklyn Waterfront Landrush of the Early 21st Century for everyone from Boston and Boise to Berlin and Beijing to see.

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