Remembering the Ave. C sanitation garage
Dear Town & Village,
I am writing about your October 9 page one article, “CB6 offers proposal: sanitation garage could go near Con Ed.”
It went on to say, “(there’s) a plan that presents the possibility of building the facility near the Con Edison plant at East 14th Street and Avenue C.” (That’s where the big gas tanks used to be; Stuyvesant Town was – out of what used to be known as “The Gashouse District” and is now a sports field for Little League baseball and soccer.) For Community Board 6 it would be an alternative to building a garage the Department of Sanitation wants to build at East 25th Street between First Avenue and the FDR.
Once upon a time, there was a sanitation garage on Avenue C between 16th and 17th Streets and it was there before STPCV was built. It was enormous, taller than ST buildings and it was large enough to hold several ST buildings with space to spare. From my parents’ window, you could see ST buildings, Playground 4, the FDR Drive, the East River and “the building.”
It was referred to as “The Sanitation Garage” or “the building” because there was nothing designating its name. That was just one of its mysteries. All anyone knew was that sanitation trucks (called “garbage trucks” then), snow plows and other snow removal equipment and other vehicles for various city uses parked there. You rarely saw a vehicle enter and never saw a vehicle leave. They made very little noise entering the building’s steep ramp. No one I knew ever saw a vehicle leave it. There was never a light on in any of its windows.
The only sign of life in it ever were yellow painted block letters on 23 of its many thousands of windows spelling out “Welcome, Colonel John Glenn.” This was in 1962, after he became the first American to orbit the earth. He was in New York for a ticker-tape parade and the FDR Drive overpass by it. My guess is he didn’t see it while playing handball in Pat’s Park.
The sign stayed on its windows until the building was town down in the 1980s.
I remember thinking, “they shouldn’t tear this building down because they don’t build them like this anymore and they’ll need it sometime in the future.” It would have solved the problem of building a new one on East 14th and Avenue C (and eliminating the sports field there now) or building a new one on East 25th Street.
If a new sanitation garage is built on East 15th and Avenue C, it might outlive STPCV. In 2065, there may not be an STPCV. Who knows what the future holds?
STPCV might be bought up, leveled and replaced by higher-priced high rises. Its tenants may find the sanitation garage not “befitting” their neighborhood and pressure the powers that be into building one some place else (possibly East 25th Street). Then they would have a lovely field at East 15th and Avenue C worthy of their children’s need for a large sports field.
A cautionary tale,