Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal AKA "The Edge"

The striking photograph above comes courtesy of a new blog called imnotsayin imjustsayin produced by Williamsburg resident James Striebich, who has a keen eye for and interest in the waterfront along Kent Avenue. The photo is of the ruins of the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, which is set to become Douglaston Development's "The Edge," a pair of 40-story luxury residential towers made possible by last year's waterfront rezoning. (Construction crews are onsite starting basic foundation work as we speak, Jim reports in an email.) We'll let imjustsayin relate some of the history of the Eastern District Terminal--some of the railbeds of which are still visible:
The BEDT was originated in 1875 as the East River Terminal by the Havemeyer & Elder Sugar Co. (later Domino Sugar) as a railyard that accepted freight cars delivered by float barges from terminals in New Jersey (remember, this predates all East River bridge and tunnel connections). The sugar refining, as well as hundreds of other manufacturing businesses in and around Williamsburg and Greenpoint - not to mention the Brooklyn Navy Yard - needed an efficient way to receive raw materials and ship out finished goods. With the bulk of domestic freight being moved by train in those days, there was a natural efficiency in moving loaded railcars by barge, rather than unloading them onto ships and standard freight barges.

The East River waterfront from North 3rd (including the recently landmarked, then un-landmarked Austin Nichols Warehouse) to North 10th was a bustling railyard from 1875 until August, 1983, when the decades-long decline in rail transportation (due primarily to the boom in interstate trucking) finally led the BEDT to cease operations.
We look forward to many illuminating and informative posts, knowing from the photos and information that James has shared with us for GL and Curbed that his blog will be required reading. You can see the flickr photoset of his waterfront photos here.

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