Remembering When Greenpoint Sewers Went BOOM!!!
Imagine this: you're walking around your neighborhood on a weekday, just past noon; maybe you're getting lunch. Suddenly, an explosion demolishes a 10-foot section of the street and sends sewer covers flying dozens of feet into the air for blocks all around you. Hundreds of shop and apartment windows are shattered, and hordes of people run out onto the streets yelling "war!" and "atom bomb!"Just a bit of North Brooklyn history. In any case, the entire New York City page on the site is worth checking out if you've got a minute.
This is what happened on October 5th, 1950 at the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Huron Street in Greenpoint.
Amazingly only three people were injured, but perhaps the scariest part is that the police were only able to make a vague guess about the cause: an explosive chemical leaking into the sewers. Several days after the explosion investigators were still searching for such a leak, giving little assurance against a repeat occurrence. Recently it has been suggested that the explosive chemical was one of the products leaked from the nearby oil refineries. This seems plausible given that a possible leak was eventually located at Greenpoint Avenue and North Henry Street, then in the middle of Standard Oil's tank farm, now regarded as a likely culprit in the spill.
[Photo courtesy of alexreisner.com]