Toxi City: Exploring Brooklyn's Industrial Legacy

Coney Island mgp sites

Posted in Brooklyn,Coney Island,Former MGP by Robin on March 31, 2011

Coney Island Creek which runs around the site of the former Coney Island mgp looked beautiful in the spring morning light this week on Tuesday, March 29th.

The former Dangman Park mgp, now a shopping strip, had some new T-mobile flags. I thought I could somehow get the light coming through the fabric. While that didn’t work, this woman walked towards me pushing a stroller.


Coney Island

Posted in Brooklyn,Coney Island by Robin on October 18, 2010

It is quite possible that the most toxic thing on Coney Island is poverty. A walk down Mermaid Avenue is a very different experience than one two blocks over down the boardwalk. I didn’t capture it. Here are a couple of the survivors.

This man standing on the corner in front of the white fence isn’t such a survivor. He asked me for money for a cup of coffee as I stood on the corner photographing one of the Coney Island Houses with broken windows. Calling them Coney Island Houses is of course a euphemism as these are apartment buildings.

I don’t understand the economics of Coney Island. How can there be undeveloped land right on the beach? What I don’t show here is the gate walling off Seagate a few blocks from here.

it is not because this is a flood zone.

These are the O’Dwyer Garden Houses.

This little boy was playing in the playground of the Coney Island Houses.

Here is the more familiar side of Coney Island: the beach and the amusement area.

Coney Island

Posted in Brooklyn,Brownfield,Coney Island by Robin on January 7, 2010

Coney Island Dangman Park MGP site

I went to Coney Island yesterday. Unsure of Toxi City’s continued relevance, I am revisiting some of the sites. This site is now a small shopping center. Very unremarkable. It was the site of a manufactured gas plant according to NYS DEC for about 20 years prior to 1906. So 100 years ago this ground was full of coal tar. And capped it is probably fine. Maybe there are vapor issues. That is what testing will determine.

However, who can predict what people will do. The lights need to be fixed and the electrical cables between them need to be dug up. So now there are the conditions for direct exposure to the soil. At least it is January and this man is wearing gloves.

Coney Island Boardwalk

Coney Island Boardwalk

I took a short walk on the beach.

I also got over to Shell road. There wasn’t much access to the creek. But I did see this heron take flight.

June 2nd-Coney Island

Posted in Brownfield,Coney Island by Robin on June 12, 2009
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There are two former Manufactured Gas Plant sites in Coney Island. On the first one we visited, Dangman Park MGP, a drive-in shopping mall and parking lot was built in 1966. It has a DII, a RadioShack, a medical supply business, a Chinese restaurant, a dry cleaner, a tanning salon and a post office among other things. I was discouraged and Nina pushed me to keep trying. I was trying to get some dead shrubbery with the perspective of the parking lines when I realized there was a liquor store in front of me. There is something poignant about this that I like.

Next, we went off to see what we could see of the Coney Island MGP site. This site in the process of remediation. I was surprised by how manicured it is. Someone must mow the grass. This is not an interesting photo but it gives a sense of the site. The creek is in front and the Belt Parkway behind.

It was low tide and the creek looked pretty foul but there were a variety of birds. We saw ducks and killdeer as well as egrets.

Trying to walk the perimeter of the former MGP site we went through the open gates under the Belt Parkway and we were able to walk right up to the fence of the what is marked as the former Brooklyn Borough Gas Works. On the left as you walk under the Belt parkway, there is a huge train yard. On the right is a barren portion of the former MGP site. I shot these photos under the fence there before a security guard started yelling at us. We picked up our stuff and started walking towards Shell Road. He followed us at a distance carrying a stick until we got to the subway station. I would have liked to talk to him. What a job to sit in a trailer protecting a highly toxic site. The stick was probably for his own protection but I worried he might try to hit our cameras.




Coney Island Foray

Posted in Brownfield,Coney Island,recycling by Robin on February 2, 2009

The weather was warm for February 1 and we drove out to Coney Island to explore the area around Coney Island’s two brownfields, both the legacy of manufactured gas plants. One site is now covered with a shopping center.The other is bounded by Coney Island Creek on the south and a highway on the north. The address given is 873 Neptune Avenue. The plant itself was actually across the creek.


Driving around, looking for access to the creek, we found Cropsey Scrap Iron and Metal Corp. Recycling and brownfields are always near each other.


We also discovered what must be an abandoned coal bin, very similar to the one near the Gowanus, off of 6th Street.


It is right next to what must be a cement factory.