Day 122

Elmhurst Park

April 30th, 2012



On this site once stood the famous Elmhurst gas tanks, whose massive size and proximity to the oft-congested Long Island Expressway made them a perfect landmark for traffic reports. Surrounded by farmland when they were built (one in 1910 and the other in 1921), the tanks oversaw decades of tremendous change in Queens before being dismantled in the late 1990s.

The tanks each comprised five telescoping cylinders, lending them the surprising ability to vertically expand and contract depending on the volume of gas stored inside. Supposedly the telephone operators at the gas company would sometimes have to settle callers' bets about whether or not the heights of the tanks actually fluctuated.

Another interesting feature of the tanks is that each one had a rowboat moored inside it. Until the 1960s, all interior inspections had to be conducted by boat, with a worker paddling around looking for leaks, floating on the 17 million gallons of water that lay beneath each tank in an underground basin, acting as a sealant.

The equipment pictured above is part of a KidPower playground, wherein children generate electricity for the games they want to play (which themselves involve lots of running around) by peddling stationary bikes.

One Comment

  1. deanna valenti meyer says:

    Oh my gosh!! I remember those gas tanks!! When I was a kid, every time we went into the city to see someone in my family (we lived on Long Island out in Mastic Beach) I can remember sitting in the back seat of the car and seeing those off the side of the road. When I saw those, I knew we were really close to my Aunt’s apartment. :)

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