Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back When North Brooklyn Had Gas


A former North Brooklyn resident sent us the shot above, which pictures the old gas holders in Williamsburg near McCarren Park. The tanks are particularly interesting because the old Manufactured Gas Plant left behind a toxic underground soup (as they do everywhere) in Williamsburg that was never cleaned up. (The "tar plume" from such plants, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, can travel underground up to 1,000 feet, or about 1/5 of a mile--meaning easily to Berry Street and possibly as far as Bedford Avenue. For a primer on the environmental mess these plants leave behind click here and here.) Our reader's email also included some interesting information about the stream that maps show originally flowed directly beneath the current site of the Roebling Oil Field at N. 11th and Roebling. He writes:
I'm a former resident of the 'burg. I was born on Lorimer near Frost, and also lived in a rear house on Richardson St near Union. We left the area in 1991...aside from the tidal flow that existed in Bushwick Creek, the area abounds with underground springs which at one time fed the kills. Evidence that they are still flowing underground can be observed in the subway on the "G" line, which also runs close by. There is a perpetual stream of water that flows in the trough between the tracks between Nassau & Metropolitan Avenues. A friend of mine who used to work for the Transit Authority mentioned to me that they were a natural stream that runs through the area and they were unable to stem the flow. There's a lot of history underfoot.
Yes, there is much history underfoot, the trick in North Brooklyn is getting someone to pay attention to it.



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