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Since 1922, the Red Hook Grain Terminal has stood at the mouth of the Gowanus River. Its usefulness has never surpassed the investment in its construction, earning the windowless behemoth the dubious title of the "Magnificent Mistake." Opened 7 years after the last grain terminal in Brooklyn was converted into warehouse space, it spent 22 years in unprofitable business before being shut-down completely.
Standing 12 stories high, the Red Hook Grain Terminal is 420 feet long and consists of 54 fireproof silos with 8 inch thick walls and 120 feet high walls. In total, the silos can hold two million bushels of grain. Other than a period of time where the Port Authority had a deed to the grain elevator (which was at the time quite an engineering feat), the building has stood unused since 1944.
In 1997, a long-time Gowanus enthusiast purchased the Red Hook Grain Terminal. Many proposals for repurposing the site have been floated since then, but none are currently in the works. Most recently, there was a request to create a landfill by using concrete and sludge dredged from the bay floor, extending the property into the water. Not surprisingly, this proposal has not been met with wide enthusiasm.
Today, the Red Hook Grain Terminal stands abandoned, a reminder of the days when boat trade powered New York. The building is oddly beautiful in the way only a mold-covered architectural artifact can be. It is worth the trip merely for the photo opportunities and the glimpse into our industrial past.
Cover photo from Mike via Flickr