by Kevin Walsh

THIS abandoned structure abutting Erie Basin in Red Hook has long been an attraction for the Forgotten NY camera, so I’m reaching into the archives to show it off today.

A massive concrete silo, built in 1922, was once the processing center for grains used for breweries and distilleries shipped down from upstate and the western USA via the Erie Canal. The terminal closed as shipping in Red Hook gave way to New Jersey containerization beginning in the 1950s. In addition, it was built because in the 1920s, canals were thought to be the wave of the future in transporting goods, but the need never materialized as freight railroads handled shipping traffic until long-haul trucking supplanted it as a main means of shipping.

With its 54 joined concrete silos, it has been described as looking like “concrete ladyfingers.” Today, the soccer field in front of the terminal has it as an impressive backdrop; dance companies have used it as a staging area, and urban sports enthusiasts have rappelled on it.

View from Red Hook Park

The grain elevator is in the Gowanus Industrial Park, which operates over 30 small businesses and a growing demand for moorage of small vessels and barges. The industrial park hopes to take on more shipping and on-site manufacturing. The ship moored behind the grain terminal is the Loujaine, a Panamanian bulk carrier employed as floating storage.

I first photographed the grain elevator for the Forgotten NY The Book back in 2005, and it remains abandoned today; proposed uses such as a concrete plant, recycling plant, storage, or even a movie soundstage have not yet materialized.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Charles September 19, 2022 - 7:23 pm

You should do something on the ship too. BTW, you’d be shocked the percentage of goods that still move by rail.

Bob September 20, 2022 - 9:33 am

I think that by the 1920s canals were already considered obsolete for moving cargo. Slow, labor-intensive, and freeze up in the winter.

Alvin September 20, 2022 - 9:41 am

Does anyone know what the deal is with the ship that’s moored next to the grain terminal? It’s been there forever and hasn’t moved.

chris September 20, 2022 - 3:38 pm

Vessel registered in Panama on the cheap.Lowest taxes,lower safety standards.non existent
enforcement.Pay your Third World crew in fishheads and rice or dont even bother paying them
at all.What are they going to do?Complain to the Panamanians?Go ahead.Make their day.
Also perfect for insurance fraud schemes.Seamans licenses not worth the paper their printed on.
Liberia,Greece,Marshall Islands also top offenders

Peter September 20, 2022 - 5:59 pm

Grain silos are quite dangerous. They are prone to dust explosions and people can drown in the grain they contain.

redstaterefugee September 22, 2022 - 10:02 am

S. Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s father was killed (buried alive) as the result of a grain silo accident. It seems that caution & stoicism are necessary traits for dealing with the hazards posed by silos.

Tal Barzilai September 25, 2022 - 4:16 pm

Unfortunately, If they don’t find a good use for it soon, there is a good chance it will be demolished for something new due to being seen as prime real estate space.

spinetingler September 25, 2022 - 5:17 pm

What’s the inside of that building like? Is it silos from edge to edge, or are they just along the exterior?

Kenneth Buettner September 28, 2022 - 11:47 am

Silos like these are massive concrete structures that were intended to accept incredible loads and to withstand accidental dust explosions. Any demolition of those silos will be incredibly expensive, which is why they have remained in place for so long. The value of the land has to outweigh that cost, and that point has not yet been reached.


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