by Kevin Walsh

By the time I snapped this formidable smokestack once belonging to the Peter Van Iderstine glue factory along Newtown Creek in the spring of 2017, operations had long ago moved to Newark, NJ, and thus the malodorous smells of rendering horseflesh had dissipated. Located on Railroad Avenue, an unsigned road along the LIRR Montauk Branch near the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, the Van Iderstine plant was established in 1855, though this brick smokestack was likely built in the early 20th Century.

Fats from dead animals were boiled down, turned into tallow and used to make soaps, glues and even fertilizer. In addition to processing scraps from butcher shops in Manhattan, this company processed dead horses collected from the streets of NYC and even had a contract for handling elephants that died when the circus was in town. Eventually the City shut the facility down after receiving thousands of odors complaints, as well as charges of illegal dumping into Newtown Creek. [GCE Fund]

Don’t look for the Van Iderstine smokestack today. It was torn down in 2022, a good 40+ years after the glue factory moved to Newark in 1977. It was a reminder of what once went on by the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek.

Sick transit, Gloria!

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



Joe Fliel February 9, 2023 - 11:59 pm

Ah, childhood memories….Coming back from Lawnguylant on the LIE, the rancid Cheetos cheese-like aroma let us know that were were getting close to home sweet
home, Greenpernt. That noxious stench permeated the entire neighborhood, especially on hot summer days.

chris February 10, 2023 - 6:20 am

So now they’re stinking up Newark?

Edward P OBrien February 10, 2023 - 7:00 am

I remember the smells growing up in Greenpoint, my mother would always say, Van Iderstine.

Kenneth Buettner February 10, 2023 - 12:19 pm

I clearly remember, and not with great fondness, driving in LIC behind one of their many trucks watching the remains of some animal or another as it slightly hung over the back of the truck and bounded up and down a bit.

Michael Carroll February 10, 2023 - 12:24 pm

Must have been a pleasant establishment to work at …

Suzie Wedges February 10, 2023 - 7:23 pm

For what its worth it was not torn down “years ago”. It was finally demolished in 2022. The work began in August, and I believe it lasted a few weeks. Thanks for your work.

Kevin Walsh February 10, 2023 - 11:13 pm

All right, all right. thx

chris February 11, 2023 - 10:26 am

I bet a lot of those horses from the Central Park carriage rides ended up there

Bill February 11, 2023 - 5:14 pm

Slightly off topic, but in the New Jersey of the 1950’s, the stench came from Secaucus, now home to the Meadowlands, where thousands of pigs were raised until the Turnpike finally pushed them out. For years afterwards, family members would liken any bad smell to “Secaucus”.

Anonymous February 13, 2023 - 3:22 am

Another odiferous factory by the. Greenpoint Avenue in Blissville was Carbona Cleaning products. They made non flammable cleaning products which made the use of benzine unnecessary! As teenagers, you might sniff Carbona for a cheap high. I believe Wrigley gum may also had a factory nearby.

Joe Fliel February 14, 2023 - 6:22 pm

The Wrigley plant was located in Rosebank, Staten Island. American Chicle Company, maker of Chiclets, Black Jack and other chewing gums, had a factory located
at 30-30 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City. Warner-Lambert closed the factory in 1981. Today, the NYC Dept. of Design & Construction is headquartered there.

John Hayden February 15, 2023 - 10:18 am

WOW did that bring back memories of visiting family in Brooklyn. We always waited for “that smell” when crossing the bridge. Dad explained what was going on and we never looked at a bar of soap the same way!


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