HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON lies just a few miles above Yonkers in lower Westchester. For the better part of the twentieth century, Hastings was known as the home of the Anaconda Wire & Cable Co., whose enormous factory buildings spanned most of the village's waterfront. Abandoned in the 1970s, much of the Anaconda plant has been demolished in recent years, to clear the way for unspecified new development. Yet many of Anaconda's old industrial structures still stand, ripe with potential for redevelopment, though for now they face an uncertain future.

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WIRE AND CABLE PRODUCTION took place on the Hastings waterfront for nearly eighty years. In 1898 the National Cable and Conduit Co. set up shop here. Later the factory passed to the Anaconda Wire & Cable Co., which ran it until the plant shut down in 1975. In the years before it closed, the Anaconda plant was exposed as being one of the worst polluters on the river, for which it was heavily fined by the federal government. It was an important early victory for the country's then emerging environmental movement. Rob Yasinsac's informative commentary and photos of the plant can be found at this link.

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WITH RUMOURS FLYING that part of the plant would soon be demolished, Rob and I teamed up with our friend Jim Logan of Tarrytown one brilliant spring afternoon in 2005 to photograph the buildings from the river. ARCO, the Los Angeles-based oil company which now owns the site, had denied repeated requests to document the factory before the demolition, so this would have to do. Thanks to Jim's expert seamanship and perfect weather conditions, I think we did well indeed. The southern portion of the plant was razed soon thereafter.

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THE REMAINS of the Anaconda plant today represent some of the best surviving examples of the kind of industrial architecture that once epitomized this stretch of the river. With their handsome facades, corbeled brickwork, arched windows and clerestory skylights, these buildings exude a sturdy, appealing character. They evoke the region's once essential part in America's industrial economy. Some Hudson River communities, such as Irvington and Beacon, have seen these buildings adapted to house restaurants and museums, new uses that anchor successfully redeveloped waterfronts. But other towns continue to regard such buildings as eyesores. Hopefully Hastings will use the former Anaconda plant to facilitate successful waterfront redevelopment that provides future generations of this river town a tangible link to those who lived and worked here before them.

UPDATE: In February 2010, British Petroleum (which acquired the site when it took control of ARCO) demolished all but one of the remaining Anaconda buildlings. Hastings residents have formed a committee to advocate for the preservation of the last remaining building.

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© T.E. Rinaldi, 2006