Day 87

Save the Palestine

March 26th, 2012

That's the slogan emblazoned on one side of this water tower (a Polish flag is painted on the other), which once served the Greenpoint Terminal Market, a 19th-century collection of warehouses that, despite having been abandoned by the end of the 20th century, still saw a fair amount of activity into the 21st. Many of the buildings were destroyed in 2006, when a massive fire — the city's largest in over a decade, with the exception of 9/11 — roared through the complex.

At that time, I had been in New York for less than a year. I worked around Madison Square Park, and I remember seeing smoke billowing into the sky from across the East River on my way into the office. It seemed like a pretty big fire, but what did I know? Maybe this kind of thing happens all the time in New York. I probably heard it was the Greenpoint Terminal Market that was burning, but that name would have meant nothing to me back then. It's only now, reading these articles, that I realize it was this tremendous blaze that I was seeing.

The fire was originally pinned on a 59-year-old homeless Polish immigrant and "enthusiastic vodka drinker", but it seems unlikely he was the real culprit. After having won a green card in the early 1990s, he worked in asbestos removal and assisted in the cleanup effort at ground zero in 2001 before his alcoholism finally drove him onto the streets. Fortunately, after being deported to Poland a couple years ago, he seems to have turned his life around.


  1. Gigi says:

    In 2006 I had been in New York for less than a year, too, working a few blocks away from Madison Square Park, but i don’t remember the fire. I may have read it on the Metro and forgot all about it, so thanks for the links, I’m reading about it again.

  2. Little Johnny says:

    This tower appears in a scene near the beginning of the move “Julie and Julia”.

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