June 26, 2022


Today, a look at a problem that plagued Tudor City from day one. Soot. It came from the smokestacks of New York Edison's Waterside Station, positioned catty-corner to No. 5 on First Avenue.

It was too close for comfort, that was apparent from the start.

Part of the Daily News editorial. No. 5 at upper left.
It was enough of a problem that the Daily News ran an editorial about it on October 4, 1930, above. Simply put, you needed some kind of material to burn to make steam to turn dynamos to generate electricity. This material was coal.

The type of coal used was anthracite, which burned slowly and pungently, and the News claimed that "powder blowers" were the answer. Whether or not they were ever installed is unknown; the complaints against soot continued.

Photograph by Percy Loomis Sperr.

Still from Deux Hommes dans Manhattan, 1959 French film.
By the 1950's, the plant had managed to reduce the number of smokestacks to three (although they look considerably wider) and switched from coal to natural gas in 1958. Critics found little improvement.

Finally, after much discussion, the station was decommissioned, its last usage on April 25, 2005. Demolished in 2007, it has been a vacant lot ever since.


  1. AnonymousJune 26, 2022

    That took way too long to be resolved.

    1. AnonymousJune 26, 2022

      Yes, but it's now 15 years since exactly nothing but dirt exists on that lot, held hostage by a developer and the city's lack of imagination and its slow-moving approval processes. Would this happen in another so-called world capital? Isn't this just another example of "broken windows," however high-end? Shameful.

  2. AnonymousJuly 04, 2022

    And yet, they once devised grand plans: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2007/06/13/brainstorming-a-new-vision-for-midtowns-east-river-waterfront/. I’m no fan of the large-scale towers that were proposed, and would shadow TC, but the extra green space and waterfront access as designed are intriguing.

    If you look at the CB6 plan from 2005, things have slowly continued to crawl towards the recommendations set forth there for this area. But I think drawing the connection between the empty ConEd lot and broken windows theory is a bit of a stretch, particularly when you have hobos living under #5 and along Woodstock, and off-road vehicles street-racing on 42nd every weekend - they’re not doing it bc of an undeveloped parcel of land (though I agree that other elements of broken windows are at work here).