Toxi City: Exploring Brooklyn's Industrial Legacy

More on the Ansbacher Color and Dye factory

Posted in Brooklyn,Williamsburg by Robin on March 11, 2011
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This spot which appears so barren is turning out to be so rich. it really encapsulates a whole era of American history.

March 7, 2011. Meeker and N. 7th Street.

Ansbacher came to New York from Bavaria to escape Antisemitism as did the family of Robert Moses, the other man to shape this spot. Ansbacher incorporates in 1875 and begins to make Paris Green at 310 N. 7th Street. There is an article in the Brooklyn Eagle about neighbors complaining about having Paris Green in their yards that very year. If you search the Brooklyn Eagle for Paris Green, there are 1,000 items most of them about suicides accomplished with this chemical compound. By 1902, the business is doing so well, Ansbacher expands his building. This new building is big enough that there are over 100 men working on it. These Irish brick carriers decide to strike for a raise from $2.75 a day to $3. Italians are brought in the break the strike. Ansbacher was a philanthropist, giving money in particular to Mount Sinai Hospital. He dies in 1917 and about 10 years later his company merges with another dye firm, eventually to be absorbed into Sun Chemical in the 1950s. Then it was Robert Moses’ turn to mold N. 7th and Union. The path of the BQE including the former Ansbacher factory building, Paris Green and all, was razed in 1947 to Metropolitan Avenue. The BQE was built to this point by 1951. there was a gap between metropolitan and the Willamsburg bridge. You an see this on the NYC doitt map. Further progress took a few years. Now the spot is a corridor, a place to pass through.



Posted in Brownfield,Greenpoint,Williamsburg by Robin on July 17, 2009
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I started this morning under the BQE. Between Metropolitan and Union Avenues along Meeker is a State Superfund site. The NYSDEC website states that debris from the Ansbacher Color & Dye Factory, which was at North 7th and Union, was used as fill under the roadway. I haven’t been able yet to find the footprint of this factory though I looked last week at the old maps at the Brooklyn Historical Society but I did learn that Paris Green, copper(II)-acetoarsenite, was made there on the Brooklyn page of
Looking out from under the BQE towards where I guess the factory would have been.

Under the BQE between Metropolitan and Union.

The next site, 291, 285 Metropolitan is under review for the Brownfield Cleanup Program. It appears to be an ordinary auto repair. This brings up the very important issue of what sites become designated brownfield sites. There are manufactured gas plants in Brooklyn that are not on the list. So why this auto repair?

Next, I walked over to the Williamsburg Works site. The remedial investigation is visible. On the north portion of the block, something was set up to take a deep underground sample. Men were working a hose down into the machine when I was there. There were new small piles of dirt in spots around the lot since I visited the site last month.

There is also a great view of Bayside Oil from 13th Street.

There was a gas holder on 13th street as well. There is now a pallet company there now.


Then I went up to West Street to try to find a site that theoretically has been remediated. I could not find the site right away. 101-105 West Street is supposed to be between Kent and Java on the West side of the street. According to the NYSDEC database, it is a construction material storage yard but from what I observed today there are two buildings on this block. It actually must be between Kent and Greenpoint Avenue. it is now boarded off with plywood.