2nd Avenue March 26th 2015 Gas Explosion Site

Last weekend, my wife and I walked around downtown quite a bit. Saturday afternoon we decided to have dinner at Veselka’s on 2nd Avenue and since we were right there next to it, we walked across the street to have a look at the site of the gas explosion from last March. It was all over the news for a few weeks, but not so much now. The day the explosion happened, I saw it on the news before leaving to go to a graduate history class at City College. I had a classmate that lived in the area so I sent him a message to ask him how he was doing. He told me he was ok and that his building was not affected, but that it was crazy downtown.

Oddly enough, my wife and I had already made plans to meet my dad in that neighborhood that evening. He was visiting from out of town. We’d thought about going to Veselka’s but he was in the mood for Thai food, so we decided to go to Thai Terminal. I think it’s over on 1st and 11th or 12th, one block up from Veneiro’s. Anyway, the moment I got off the train at Union Square I could smell smoke in the air. It made me wonder how the city must have smelled in the days and weeks after the Trade Towers collapsed. My wife, dad and I all walked down 2nd Ave to try to get a look at what was going on but we couldn’t get any closer than 12th street, I think it was. There was a barricade and emergency services personnel everywhere.



So, Saturday, my wife and I went to satisfy our curiosity. It was a thoroughly depressing experience. There were signs attached to the fence and also to a blue plywood barricade set up inside the fence on the now empty lot. When I walked to one side, I could look around the blue barricade and see two graves outlined in stones. One had a cross made of rusted metal pipe stuck in the ground behind it, surrounded by deflated balloons. There were pictures of the two guys that died in the explosion on the fence surrounded by wilted flowers, links, political messages, and accusations of greed and stupidity needlessly resulting in death.

Maybe their deaths weren’t completely meaningless though. A week or so ago I saw a news report about a Dallas BBQ restaurant in the same neighborhood being closed temporarily after someone reported smelling gas. ConEd performed an inspection and found gas leaks and shut the restaurant down while repairs are made. Would that have happened without the tragedy at 2nd Ave. being so fresh in everyone’s minds? Maybe, maybe not.

Some photos from the site:

Burning Gas and Exploding Buildings in East Harlem

Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.

Yesterday, two buildings exploded in East Harlem because of a buildup of natural gas. I’m sure everyone is going to be trying their hardest to shift the blame onto someone else. Whoever winds up on the receiving end of that lawsuit is going to have a really bad day.

I feel bad for the families and friends of those who died and were badly injured in that explosion. I hope it doesn’t happen again, but I heard on NPR that the gas main by the building was installed in the 1880s and that’s not unique or unusual for this city. It’s like we’re sitting on a bomb that could go off at any moment as the infrastructure ages and fails.

Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.
Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.

When I was leaving City College yesterday evening, I saw smoke and fire coming out of an access hole in the road. The area was cordoned off with yellow tape and there were dozens of firemen and two trucks nearby.

I stopped to watch for a while and took a short video. I can’t help but think it is somehow related to the buildings exploding across town, though I could be wrong. But, if those buildings exploded and burned then maybe the gas in the line caught fire also? The woman standing next to me was telling me that the lights in the school building there, P.S. 192, were flickering, so this fire was damaging the power lines as well.

Everything looked normal when I walked by today, though. I just hope the city does something to address the issue of aging gas pipes and starts taking complaints about smelling gas more seriously after this.