May 19, 2024

The VACANT LOT in Photos

Today, a history of the Vacant Lot in photographs, the story of the three-block site from its beginnings up to present day. 

To get in the mood, we begin with this atmospheric picture of the New York Edison Company, made from 39th Street and 2nd Avenue. Producing both electricity and steam, the plant opened in 1901, and underwent many changes over the years.

A rare view of construction to the original building, dated December 26, 1906.

Two photos made in the 1960s. There have been many changes over the years ‒ including the name to Con Edison in 1936 ‒ but the original name remained over the door.

The final day of operation came on April 29, 2005, after 104  years of continuous operation. The wrecking ball was not far behind.  

Real estate developer Sheldon Solow bought the site ‒ for $630 million ‒ and in 2008 announced plans for seven luxury towers. 

Then Solow fell ill, and the fate of the property languished. The years went by. A verdant tangle of weeds gave the place a kind of Manhattan, Kansas vibe. More years slipped by.

And now, finally, the present day. Sheldon Solow has passed on and his son controls the site, which he has renamed Freedom Plaza. It now hosts the Field of Light show, an after-dark attempt to draw positive buzz to its proposal for a casino ‒ a block away from the UN. 

Only in New York, dear readers!

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 19, 2024

    Midtown East don't need no freakin' casino! The light show is BS.