Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Photo Essay: Abandoned Domino Sugar Refinery, Before Demolition

I can't recall what party I had been invited to or heard about years and years ago while living in New York, but I'm left with a sense of regret that I'd had a chance to get inside the Domino Sugar Refinery on the Williamsburg Brooklyn waterfront once before.

And now, non-designated, non-landmarked portions of it are being demolished, and the remaining pieces are part of a plan for a new multi-use development that will involve new residential towers rising up, dotting that side of the East River like so many others have done along Kent Street and up into Long Island City.



Before leaving New York, I'd skulked around the fenced-off exterior of Domino's Brooklyn Refinery, managing to document some of the areas...



...which are already demolished.



This weekend while back in NYC on a brief visit...



...I got the chance to get up even closer to the abandoned plant...



...to examine the exterior details...



...of this building which had served as a landmark...



...and a beacon for me...



...having lived in Brooklyn for seven years...



...and seen that rooftop "Domino" sign from the river...



...or maybe from across the river.



All those memories feel like dreams now. I can't remember the details.



So, in my waking state, when I finally got to go inside...



...I documented it.



The space had been cleaned up for an event...



...and not even its first public event in recent years...



...so I didn't get to encounter it in its purest, decrepit state.



Safety lights have been installed. Floors have been power-washed.



Most of the machinery has been removed...



...leaving only a few vestiges in their places...



...rusting, peeling...




...dripping.



Light pours through the windows...



...but you can still find some dark corners.



Despite the clean-up efforts...



...it smells like sugar in there.



Not the sticky, sweet, white, refined sugar of the icing on your cinnamon roll...



...but a deep, dark, dank, pungent funk of raw sugar refined into molasses.



You wonder why the smell is so strong after all of this time...



...and then you start to discover it...



...actual sugar...



...on every ledge...



...in every corner...



...tucked away into door pockets...



...falling down from somewhere above.



Liquified sugar drips from the ceiling, down the walls.



No surface is safe.



It blackens your hands...



...and slicks the soles of your shoes.



I only got to see one part of the entire complex, which is now pretty much an empty shell...



...but I got in there, finally, before it changed too much, before its sugary legacy has all but disappeared.

Stay tuned for photos from the art exhibit that made my entry possible...

Related Posts:
On the Waterfront: Domino Sugar Refinery
Photo Essay: Abandoned Sugar Factory, Betteravia