I’m informed by Gravesend historian Joseph Ditta that this large mystery object on the west side of Ocean Parkway and Avenue U in Gravesend has finally been removed by the city after it was plowed into by a vehicle. photo: Lisanne.
It’s big, it’s ornate, it’s rusting, and I hadn’t a clue what it might be. It’s on the northeast corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue U. It looks like a decorative torch that may have been one of many placed along Ocean Parkway, but wear, tear and pollution have taken their toll. From Lisanne’s photo, it does seem that it has been painted recently.
In 2003, Ditta reported:
This is from Oscar Israelowitz’s “Flatbush Guide” (Brooklyn, NY: Israelowitz Publishing, 1990; page 39):
“The unique cast-iron tower located on the northeast corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue U is the air vent for the sewage pumping station beneath that intersection.”
The question is, is the sewage pumping station still there and do the local denizens know about it?
ForgottenFan Rob Firriolo:
Yes, it is still there, and indeed they know about it, at least those who lived there back in the late-1980s did. At that time, I was the resident field inspector with NYCDEP and had daily oversight over the extensive reconstruction project of that pump station. (I worked out of the DEP field office trailer located on-site.) The project took a couple of years, during which the entire station area was dug-up, along with sections of Avenue U heading toward McDonald Avenue.
The dry well (where the control room and pumps are located) is directly under the pedestrian island and is accessed via a Bilco door (one of those silver plates on the ground).
The wet well (where the sewage collects for pumping) extends out beneath Avenue U, and the sewage is pumped up into a force main that extends several blocks down Avenue U (to around E. 2nd street–I forget exactly how far it went when we slip-lined the old cast iron pipe with a plastic pipe). From there the sewage flows by gravity (downhill) toward the large, aboveground pump station on Ave. V between 86th and W. 11th Sts.
The vent tower was not the only structure at that location. Prior to the reconstruction, there was a small brick and stone structure that served as the entrance to the station. It looked like a small shed, with a door and a peaked roof, and, as I recall, a stone cornice above the door. Beyond the door was nothing but a stairway that led down into the old station. The structure was demolished and replaced with the Bilco door. I recall discussion about preservation of the structure prior to its demolition, but it was ultimately decided there was nothing that could be done with it. If you locate historic photos of the corner, you will see the entrance structure.
With the pump removed, does the pumping station survive in 2022? Questions….
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