Posts Tagged ‘Goerck Street’

The coal hole cover of West 13th Street

June 21, 2010

This cast-iron cover outside the tenement at 241 West 13th Street looks like a regular  manhole cover. But because it’s a smaller in diameter and is actually built into the sidewalk , it warranted a closer look. 

Turns out it doesn’t lead to the sewer but to a coal hole: a storage area for coal when it was widely used for heat in the 19th century. A coal merchant could deliver the coal from the street without having to enter the building.

This cover was made by a company on Goerck Street, near the Williamsburg Bridge, renamed Baruch Place in 1933.

But coal holes had some other inadvertent uses. The New York Times archives contains many articles about prisoners escaping jail through a coal hole . . . as well as accidents involving a fall into one.

The foundries that built cast-iron Soho

February 16, 2010

Cast-iron architecture is all over New York City. But Soho just might be the cast-iron capital of the world—a handful of streets packed with dozens of beautifully preserved iron buildings (like these on Broadway between Prince and Spring, circa 1905.)

Besides their lovely facades, cast-iron structures had a few other advantages: They were less susceptible to fire, and they allowed for huge windows, providing lots of light and air.

But someone had to supply the iron and the manpower to construct them. If you look closely at the base of the buildings, you can still see some of the plaques bearing the names of the foundries who did the work.

Lindsay, Graff & Mecquier helped build several Soho buildings, including 83 Grand Street—a former silk warehouse put up in 1872.

S.B. Ferdon’s work can be seen on Wooster Street:

This Aetna Iron Works inscription is interesting because of the street the foundry was located on: Goerck Street.

Goerck Street? It doesn’t exist anymore. It used to be a bleak little strip near the Williamsburg Bridge renamed Baruch Place (after physician Simon Baruch) in 1933.