This past Saturday, Simon and I ventured into the abandoned grain factory in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The building is a massive eye-sore in the neighborhood because of its dilapidated state as well as its enormous size jutting out from the piers. There are apparently some plans floating in the air to turn it into a cement factory or storage facility, but as of April 2009, the work on this proposed project has yet to begin.
So for now, the building sits abandoned along the New York harbor which connects into the Atlantic Ocean. My story of entering its grounds is inside, but if all you want to see are the pictures, then check them out over at hermanyung.com.
First off, let me just say that we picked a lovely day of rain to go exploring. Honestly, the weather wasn’t ideal, but since I really wanted to see the place, I convinced Simon to just come with me anyway.
Simon and I drove out to Red Hook with our gear and at first tried to scale this massive wall made of concrete boulders (they were concrete cubes). I realized that this would be a bad idea because after scaling the rocks, we would still have to hold on to this metal wall and inch ourselves across the New York Harbor with nothing to prevent us from falling in. We probably could have done it, but I didn’t want to risk it because I was carrying expensive equipment.
Our alternative was to walk straight through the adjacent bus depot (which you’ll see pictures of in the gallery). We were reluctant at first because we didn’t want to get stopped. But after a while, I just said to Simon that we should walk straight in like we knew exactly where we were going and just hope that we wouldn’t get stopped.
And so, that’s what we did. We walked into the yard and got a few glances from the bus drivers and the guy in the security booth, but nobody actually said anything to us and we walked straight past the bus yard and into the closed off section of the grain factory. But we weren’t quite home yet because we still had to find a way in to the actual building which proved to be a bit harder than I had thought. It turns out that the building is completely sealed from the outside by large concrete boulders. The only way in was to cut one of the locks or to somehow move one of the boulders with our strength. Since we neither had the strength nor the bolt cutters on us, we had to find another way in.
We walked around the entire building before finally getting in through a fallen down section of the building sitting over the water. Simon and I had to literally hold on to the crumbling building and hoist ourselves up to the other side. It wasn’t exactly hard, but it wasn’t easy either. In the end, the important thing was that we were in and that’s all that mattered to me.
So inside, we are presented with these large concrete columns that I assume hold the building structure in place. In between some of the columns are these grain shafts that seem to have been removed and only show a large hole in the ceiling. The space was massive with columns stretching down very long corridors. After scoping out the first floor, Simon and I decided to walk up the stairs. Little did we know that the next floor we would come to would be the top floor.
You see, a grain factory actually has no floors in between the ground and the top floor. Instead, the middle of the building is simply just a bunch of massive cylinders that allow the grain to fall from the top to the bottom without having to stop (the reason for this is unknown to me, but that’s how this building was built). So yeah, the next thing we knew, we were at the top floor with an incredible view of New York City and the surrounding area. Even with the rain, the scenery was beautiful and the view was probably unlike anything you could get in the area as I don’t recall seeing any other structure nearly as tall as the grain factory in the near vicinity.
The top floor was tricky and dangerous to be on simply because it consisted of large holes that led straight down to the ground floor. Yep, one wrong step on the top floor and your body would end up splattered on the first floor after having fallen down what I estimate to be about 12 floors (could be more, could be less).
From the top floor, the building extends into two additional top sections, each on opposite sides of the floor. Each section is about another 4 floors of machinery and sorting mechanisms. From the very, very top, the view was impeccable. I can only imagine that the view would have been so much better if it wasn’t raining and I intend to go back one day when it’s not cloudy and wet.
Walking on the roof of the grain factory was exhilarating and a scary. There is no protection or barrier on the roof which meant that slipping or high winds could easily throw you off the top. Given the weather conditions, Simon and I didn’t stay outside on the roof for long.
Eventually, we walked back down to the first floor to poke around again and to call it quits for the day. We went back to the area where we came in from and leaving turned out to be a bit harder than entering because of the angle of the walls and our bodies. Simon has hilarious videos of me trying to get back onto the other side of the wall only to get stuck. If Simon was not there, I would have had to do some crazy upper body lifting to hoist myself back onto the ledge where I started from, or I would have just fallen into the somewhat shallow water below and gotten myself all wet (along with my equipment). Thankfully, Simon pulled me up by my bag and we re-thought our strategy to get out.
After a couple of minutes, we got out and simply walked out of the bus depot where we came in from. Again, nobody stopped us and we simply got into our car and left. Another day of urban exploration done!
Anybody want to go with me again when the sun’s out? Let me know in the comments! And again, here’s the link for the pictures!