Last week there was a crane accident in New York. A crane, tied to a building under construction, tore away from its ties and fell over. The crane hit a building and cantilevered onto another building totally demolishing a four story brownstone on 51st Street and Lexington Avenue. At least four were killed, several had to be dug out of the rubble. (Remembrance of Sept. 11th for all New Yorkers.)
All I could think last Saturday, was that you’re sitting in your apartment on a Saturday afternoon, cleaning or watching the tv or just doing nothing. Suddenly, your life is over.
The chaos of it all just hasn’t left me all week.
I was going to photograph a crane to dress the site last Sunday, but couldn’t get up the drive to do it. I’ve decided to post these older pictures from last April (all of which are no longer there; the buildings are just about constructed.)
There was a woman interviewed on the day of the accident. She had been born in the building that was destroyed, and she spent her entire life living in the building. She left to go out and buy groceries and came home to devestation. She teared up when she mentioned her two cats left in the building and wondered if they would find them in the rubble. It was several hours later when she was being interviewed, and she was still holding two bags of groceries.
The crane to the left can be seen from many blocks away. It stood at 30th Street and Madison Ave for about six months. An enormous piece of equipment, from a block away it virtually looked as tall as the Empire State Building, behind it. The building they eventually built with the crane does block out the view of the Empire State Building for a good many people.
Interestingly enough, there’s a second crane – albeit much shorter – half a block away which is working on another construction site. At times, traffic backs up for blocks. (See both in the image above to the right.)
Here are two other views of the same two cranes. The tall one from a block away looking down over a couple of buildings. The image on the right is the short crane as seen from the base of the tall crane.
If you look up to 42nd St from 14th St, you see a mass of construction going on uptown. Even just out of the frame on both the left and right, there’s more. The crane below is to the left at 18th Street. It’s enormous when standing straight up and down. Here it’s bent to pick up materials.
Here’s another shot of the same crane from the other side of a building.
Another person who was interviewed on NPR yesterday was the owner of a bar in the building on the street level. He decided that he wanted to see the Yankee spring training game. They’ve aired so few of them that he decided to stay home and go in a bit later so that he could enjoy the game. When he arrived his bar was no longer there. One of his employees was found in the rubble later. Another tenant of the building, a friend of his, had ridden down with the crash and was buried. He was also found alive and was just homeless. The owner of the bar just worried for all the newly displaced people.
Here, to the left, is an image of the Empire State Building. Cranes were obviously key to the construction of this building and others equally beautiful. One can only hope that the construction under way will leave behind some glorious piece of architecture, though it always seems more likely that some rectangular box will be built to hide more of the view from the ground.
There always is this feeling of danger, though. One sees these monumentally tall machines and wonders if it fell over would I be in its range?
As usual, they immediately started searching for someone to blame for the incident that happened last week. At first, they told us innumerable times that an inspection had taken place recently so that wasn’t the problem. Now we learn that the inspector hadn’t done his job properly.
To me, it all comes down to deregulation. It started when Ronald Reagan deregulated the airlines, and it came to its zenith when Bill Clinton deregulated the airwaves. At first the airlines began to fold, then Disney bought ABC, Time Warner bought AOL, and it looks like the taxpayers just bought Bears Stearns for Chase. The pharmaceutical industry is pricing us all out of drugs, dog food is poisoned and our toys are covered in lead paint. It might be time for the Federal Government to begin to open its eye again.
Sorry for the rant; we live in chaos, and New York City seems to heighten the reality of that for us.