It’s gone: UPS starts tearing down most iconic section of Red Hook factory

Activists tried to save the Lidgerwood Building facade closest to Valentino Park — but to no avail.

May 30, 2019 Lore Croghan
Bulldozers are busy on Thursday, May 30, at the site of Red Hook’s historic Lidgerwood Building. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

UPS has officially demolished the section of Red Hook’s historic Lidgerwood Building that activists were striving to save.

The demolition began the Friday before Memorial Day, leaving residents outraged that the delivery giant had backed down on a promise to consider a proposal from preservationists to repurpose part of the structure.

A bulldozer scooped up giant mouthfuls of debris from a rubble-strewn parcel on Thursday at the corner of Coffey and Ferris streetsthe final remains of a foundry constructed in the 1880s.

There’s nothing left but rubble today, May 30, at the iconic end of the Lidgerwood Building. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
There’s nothing left but rubble on Thursday, May 30, at the iconic end of the Lidgerwood Building. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Red Hook activists pleaded unsuccessfully for a meeting with UPS to discuss saving this end of the property, which faces Louis J. Valentino Jr. Park and Pier.

The Lidgerwood Building stood in a ring of historic 19th-century industrial buildings that surrounded the park and gave it “a sense of time and place,” Carolina Salguero of PortSide New York told the Brooklyn Eagle last week.

Gone Baby Gone. The iconic portion of the Lidgerwood Building stood here. I took this photo today, May 30. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The iconic portion of the Lidgerwood Building once stood here. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The Lidgerwood Building’s demolition is proceeding at a rapid pace. These photos tell the tale.

In the picture above, taken Thursday, rubble is all that’s left of the iconic corner of the Lidgerwood Building.

On Saturday, that same portion of the building was still standing tall above a construction fence, as the photo below shows.

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 Here is the iconic end of the Lidgerwood Building, which was still standing on May 25. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Here is the iconic end of the Lidgerwood Building, which was still standing on May 25. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

‘Unstable and unsafe,’ UPS said

The red-painted foundry at 202 Coffey St. appeared in countless visitors’ Instagram photos, because Valentino Park is a prime spot for viewing the Statue of Liberty at sunset.

In recent years, the Lidgerwood Building was used as a site for still-photo, movie and TV shoots, including some for “Gotham” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

This is a closeup of the Lidgerwood Building’s corner on May 25. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
This is a closeup of the Lidgerwood Building’s corner on May 25. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Bulldozers demolished the north side of the historic property on May 24, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

A UPS spokesperson told the Eagle that day the building was “unstable and unsafe” and had “significant asbestos” on its roof and exterior.

 On Thursday, May 30, the Dead End sign is the only clue this is the same spot where I photographed the Lidgerwood Building a few days ago. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
On Thursday, the Dead End sign is the only clue this is the same spot where I photographed the Lidgerwood Building a few days ago. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Many Red Hook merchants were angry about UPS’s destruction of a piece of the neighborhood’s industrial waterfront history.

“Little people don’t matter when there’s big money,” Bene Coopersmith, owner of the Record Shop on Van Brunt Street, told the Eagle.

A bulldozer is busy on the north end of the Lidgerwood property today, May 30. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
A bulldozer is busy on the north end of the Lidgerwood property on Thursday. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The Lidgerwood Building is one piece of an enormous development site UPS assembled last year. The company paid $37.25 million for the Lidgerwood Building and $303 million for a cluster of adjacent properties, city Finance Department records indicate.

The Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company, the original occupant of the doomed historic property, made maritime equipment. It was used for constructing docks and also for high-profile projects like building the Panama Canal.

Here’s a look from Valentino Park at what’s left of the Lidgerwood Building on Thursday, May 30. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Here’s a look from Valentino Park at what’s left of the Lidgerwood Building on Thursday, May 30. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The rapid demolition of the Lidgerwood Building is visible to passengers on NYC Ferry boats traveling from Sunset Park to Red Hook.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

Update (June 3 at 1:40 p.m.): The headline on this article has been edited for increased clarity.

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