John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Demolition crews exploded the tallest building on Governors Island this weekend to make way for new parkland.
Governors Island's Building 877 was once a useful structure, providing housing for Coast Guard personnel and their loved ones. But since the mid-1990s it's stood vacant, a nuisance to daytime sojourners who can't see the Statue of Liberty past its 11-story bulk.
That's the story according to the Bloomberg administration, at least, which has invested $250 million in redeveloping the island as a hermetic wonderpark for New Yorkers and tourists. "This obsolete building does not comply with local or state building codes, was constructed with unacceptable levels of out of date materials and is therefore not fit for any future re-use," writes the Trust for Governors Island. So on Sunday, demolition workers skinned that bulk of its brick facade, covered it in black fabric and took it down in an eardrum-rippling explosion.
The dynamite reduction occurred around 7:36 a.m.; three hours later, the island was welcoming ferries from Manhattan full of people who wanted to bike the landmass' circumference or enter this weird artificial cloud that's part of the Figment Festival. On the gravesite of Building 877 will rise a sports field, part of a larger parkland project to be completed later this year that includes a six-acre planted plaza, public-art space and a tree-ridden relaxation zone called "Hammock Grove":