NY Through the Lens: Oxidation – Domino Sugar Factory
Photo and words by Vivienne Gucwa
There is something remarkably touching about urban decay.
It is as if sorrow and longing can be traced in the peeling layers and crumbling brick. In warm sunlight, the rich colors created by iron oxidation produce the most beautiful textures on old pipes and metal framework. The memory of those who graced the intricate insides of these structures is delicately preserved by the faded remnants that remain.
During the period following the Civil War, New York was the top provider of refined sugar to the United States, and for a period of time the Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was the largest sugar refinery in the world. At one time, the factory employed over 4,000 workers and processed 3 million pounds of sugar a day.
After nearly 150 years of service, the factory shut down in 2004 due to a decline in demand. There is a new plan for this space to make it a residential space which is being actively protested by groups like the Waterfront Preservation Alliance and the Landmarks Conservancy who believe that huge development in this space would destroy the history and architectural legacy of the sugar factory. I am inclined to agree with their assessment.
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